Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Obesity in Kids and Vitamin D

"Obese children with lower vitamin D levels may be at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, a new study shows....Obese children were more than three times more likely than non-obese children to be vitamin D deficient, and both obesity and low vitamin D levels were associated with higher degrees of insulin resistance." 

This quote is from an article I read this morning: "Low Vitamin D May Raise Diabetes Risk in Kids," by Salynn Boyles.

Another finding from the newly published study disturbed me, "Obese children were also more likely than non-obese children to skip breakfast and drink more soda and juice, suggesting that these lifestyle factors may contribute to lower vitamin D levels, the researchers noted." 

I write frequently about the importance of not skipping meals, ESPECIALLY breakfast.  This study, published in the latest issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, makes me stop and think about whether every child whose lives we each touch starts their day with a good breakfast.  Given the current economy and high unemployment rates, it is to the point now where almost anything kids eat for breakfast is better than NOTHING for breakfast. 

In a recent program I did for middle school kids in Indian River County, Florida, only one child had breakfast that day.  ONLY ONE CHILD OUT OF 12!!!  Why?  Is it because of the food insecurity crisis affecting families where parents of young children are unemployed or underemployed?  Is it because of the embarassment and shame that prevents families from applying for the free and reduced meal programs at their child's school?  With the rising prices of food due and fuel, many families are forced to make choices which are affecting their children's (and their own) health. 

One of my jobs is to raise awareness about the root causes for the childhood obesity epidemic in America. The journal article referenced above shines a spotlight on a topic I have long been following. 

I will be writing more on the relationship between low vitamin D levels, obesity, and diabetes in future blogs.  Stay tuned. 

Growing Healthy Kids is a movement to educate adults, school administrators, and policy makers about the root causes of obesity so we can prevent obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, in America's kids.  Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. creates solutions which improve the health - and lives - of America's kids, one child and one garden at a time.  It is my belief that our society will be judged in the future by how well we protect our children. 

Gracefully yours,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids