Nearly half of U.S. children who are obese do not have sufficient levels of
vitamin D, a U.S. pediatrician says.
Dr. Christy Turer of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, a
pediatrician at Children's Medical Center Dallas, said risk of vitamin D
deficiency was even higher for severely obese and minority children.
"One-in-2 children with severe obesity is vitamin D deficient, and only about 10
percent of severely obese African-American children are not deficient," Turer
said in a statement. "While we don't know for sure what causes the deficiency,
there are things parents can do to reduce their child's risk."
Left untreated, vitamin D deficiency can pose serious health risks that include
rickets and osteomalacia, a condition that causes softening of the bones. The
deficiency has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and severe
asthma, Turer said.
Helpful behavioral changes include limiting television/computer and video game
time to less than 2 hours a day, increasing physical activity to more than 2
hours a week and encouraging children to drink 2-3 cups of low-fat vitamin
D-fortified milk per day.
While 600 international units of vitamin D per day is recommended for healthy
children, obese children may need more, Turer said. Parents should talk to their
pediatrician regarding the appropriate dose, Turer advised.