(NaturalNews) If there's one nutrient that has received an amazing amount of attention and research over the past year, it's vitamin D. As NaturalNews has reported extensively, a lack of the vitamin has been linked to everything from dementia and arthritis to heart disease and breast cancer.
What's more, as scientists have probed deeper into the question of vitamin D deficiency, they've come up with an alarming finding -- huge numbers of people tested appear to be deficient in the vitamin. For example, researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health released a study showing American youth are facing potentially severe health consequences from a lack of vitamin D, which is also known as the "sunshine vitamin." (http://www.naturalnews.com/025834_Vitamin_D_...)
Other top health news stories about children have related the startling findings that both obesity and type 2 diabetes have reached epidemic proportions in the US. Now research set for publication in The Endocrine Society's January 2012 issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) reveals all these problems appear to be related to the widespread vitamin D deficiency in the population.
The new study, conducted by scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, involved both obese and non-obese children. The results showed low vitamin D levels are significantly more prevalent in obese kids and are also strongly linked to risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
What's the specific connection?
Previous studies have already shown that obese adults often have vitamin D deficiency and past research has also revealed an association between low vitamin D levels and cardiovascular disease as well as type 2 diabetes. But exactly why obesity and diseases such as type 2 diabetes are related to vitamin D deficiency isn't fully understood.
To try to unravel this mystery, the new study looked for correlations between vitamin D levels and markers of abnormal glucose metabolism and blood pressure. It also looked for links between vitamin D levels and dietary habits in obese children.
The scientists measured vitamin D levels, blood sugar levels, serum insulin, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure in 411 obese youngsters. The study also included 87 non-overweight children in a control group. Dietary information -- including daily intake of soda, juice and milk, average daily fruit and vegetable intake, and whether or not they routinely skipped breakfast -- was also collected for all the research subjects.
"Our study found that obese children with lower vitamin D levels had higher degrees of insulin resistance," Micah Olson, MD, lead author of the study, said in a media statement. "Although our study cannot prove causation, it does suggest that low vitamin D levels may play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes."
Dr. Olson noted that poor nutritional habits like skipping breakfast and drinking a lot of soda were associated with the lower vitamin D levels seen in obese children. "Future studies are needed to determine the clinical significance of lower vitamin D levels in obese children, the amount and duration of treatment necessary to replenish vitamin D levels in these children and whether treatment with vitamin D can improve primary clinical endpoints such as insulin resistance," he concluded.
If vitamin D is the key to preventing and/or treating childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes the benefits could be enormous. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) says the incidence of overweight kids in the US has soared and now over 17 percent of children and teens between the ages of 6 to 19 are overweight. What's more, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that in the last two decades, type 2 diabetes -- a condition that was virtually unheard of in children just a decade ago --is now one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adolescents.