Higher vitamin D levels in 1st year of life could help against obesity in adolescence: study

By Xu Jing

CHICAGO, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- Low levels of vitamin D during the first year of life are inversely associated with metabolic syndrome in adolescence, which is closely linked to obesity, according to a study posted on the website of the University of Michigan (UM) on Thursday.

The study used data from more than 300 children from a cohort of about 1,800 participants recruited as infants. The children from 50 low- and middle-income neighborhoods in Santiago, Chile, were followed through adolescence for a cardiovascular risk assessment.

The researchers measured blood concentration of vitamin D at age 1 and examined its association with body mass index-for-age at ages 5, 10, and 16-17. They also measured the percentage of fat and muscle mass and a metabolic syndrome score and its components, say waist circumference, blood pressure, blood lipids, insulin resistance, at age 16-17.

They found that every extra unit of vitamin D in the blood of a 1-year-old was related to a slower gain in body mass index (BMI) between ages 1 and 5, a lower metabolic risk score at age 16-17 and less body fat and more muscle mass in adolescence.

Another important aspect of the study was that it was conducted at a time when early cardiovascular risk factors in Chilean children were on the rise, driven in part by the obesity epidemic in this Andean country.

"The fact that you can have 16-year-olds with high blood pressure, a poor lipid profile and insulin resistance is very sobering. Finding potentially modifiable factors that might modulate that risk could be valuable," said senior author Eduardo Villamor, professor of epidemiology at UM School of Public Health.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions such as high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels that together increase risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

The study has been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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