Vitamin D supplements may promote weight loss and reduce risk factors for future heart disease in overweight and obese children, according to research presented today at the 57th Annual European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology Meeting.
The findings indicate that taking vitamin D supplement may be part of an effective strategy to tackle childhood obesity and reduce the risk of serious health problems, such as heart disease, in adulthood.
Although vitamin D deficiency is typically associated with impaired bone health, in recent years it has been increasingly linked with increased body fat accumulation and obesity, with the precise nature of this relationship currently under investigation. However, the effect of vitamin D supplementation on the weight and health of obese children and adolescents had not yet been investigated.
In this study, researchers from the University of Athens Medical School assessed 232 obese, but otherwise healthy, children and adolescents over 12 months, with 117 randomly assigned to receive vitamin D supplementation, in accordance with the Endocrine Society's guidelines on treatment and prevention of deficiency. Levels of vitamin D, body fat, and blood markers of liver function and heart health were assessed at the start of the study and 12 months later.
The study reported that children given vitamin D supplements had significantly lower body mass index, body fat and improved cholesterol levels after 12 months of supplementation.
The research team now plans to investigate the effects of vitamin D supplementation on the health of obese children and adolescents that already have health conditions, such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol, all of which increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Although these initial findings indicate that vitamin D could be used in the treatment of obesity, there remains a lack of evidence on the safety and long-term effects of supplementation, particularly if there is no vitamin D deficiency. If your child is overweight or obese consult your primary care physician for advice and consider having their vitamin D levels tested, said the lead researcher.
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