Thursday, September 18, 2014

Micronutrient Levels and Childhood Obesity: What’s the Connection?

Childhood obesity is a topic of concern for parents spanning the globe as the number of children dealing with this problem has grown from year to year. Doctors and scientists are working tirelessly to understand how to curb this problem and provide a healthier future for all of our children.

According to the World Health Organization, in 2010 the number of overweight children under the age of five, was estimated to be over 42 million worldwide. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over the past 30 years, childhood obesity has doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents. Excess weight during childhood can lead to obesity during adulthood, as well as health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

There is a medical consensus that childhood obesity can be prevented. How this can be done efficiently on a global scale remains a mystery. A few studies done in the last decade have explored the link between vitamin deficiency and childhood obesity. Doctors are keen to understand specifically how micronutrient levels in the body affect metabolism, insulin uptake and chronic inflammation.

According to a study published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, Iranian researchers found that zinc supplementation had a marked effect on insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and inflammation among prepubescent children with metabolic syndrome, a common disease caused by obesity. Two groups of children participated in the study. One group was given a placebo and the second group was given daily zinc supplements. The groups were switched after a month-long break. In both groups, children who received zinc exhibited a decrease in their mean weight and BMI, in addition to decreased LDL cholesterol.

Another study published in the journal Nutrients in December 2013 examined how Vitamins A, C, E, iron and zinc affect children suffering from obesity and metabolic syndrome. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between micronutrient status and obesity, lipid profile, insulin resistance and low-grade systemic inflammation in school-aged children.

The researchers examined a group of 197 school-aged children using the following parameters: body composition, blood analysis, dietary intake and socioeconomic status. After analyzing the data, the scientists came to the following conclusions:

In conclusion, low vitamin C concentration and the vitamin E:lipids ratio were associated with obesity. In addition, low concentrations of vitamins A, E and zinc in children who were overweight and obese were associated with lipids, inflammation and insulin resistance.

More research is required in order to fully understand how vitamin levels in the body affect obesity and vice versa. But this is a promising start that we hope will aid doctors and scientists in their search for a solution to the childhood obesity problem.

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