Being obese can cause a deficiency in vitamin D circulating in the body, reports a new study.
Efforts to tackle obesity should thus also help to reduce levels of vitamin D deficiency in the population, says the lead investigator of the study, Dr Elina Hypponen.
The new study sought to establish the direction of causality i.e. whether a lack of vitamin D triggers a weight gain, or whether obesity leads to the deficiency.
Researchers used genetic markers derived from an analysis of 21 adult cohort groups (up to 42,000 participants) to explore the link between body mass index (BMI) and genes associated with the synthesis and metabolism of vitamin D.
Associations between vitamin D and BMI were further confirmed using data from another genetic consortium with over 123,000 participants.
It was found that a 10 per cent rise in BMI was linked to a four per cent drop in concentrations of vitamin D in the body. Overall, the findings suggest that a higher BMI leads to lower levels of available vitamin D, while the effect of a lack of vitamin D on BMI appears to be very small.
Overall, the ICH results suggest that although increases in vitamin D are not likely to help with weight regulation, increased risk of vitamin D deficiency could contribute to the adverse health effects associated with obesity.
Dr Hypponen, UCL Institute of Child Health and lead author of the study, says: "Vitamin D deficiency is an active health concern around the world. While many health messages have focused on a lack of sun exposure or excessive use of suncreams, we should not forget that vitamin D deficiency is also caused by obesity."
"Our study highlights the importance of monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency in people who are overweight or obese, in order to alleviate adverse health effects caused by a lack of vitamin D."
The study has been published in the journal PLOS Medicine. (ANI)