Larger waistlines are linked to a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency in obese patients, according to Dutch researchers.
The study, presented at the European Society of Endocrinology annual meeting in Barcelona, identified that vitamin D levels were lower in individuals with higher levels of belly fat.
“The strong relationship suggests that individuals with larger waistlines are at a greater risk of developing deficiency”
It suggests that individuals, particularly the overweight with larger waistlines should have their vitamin D levels checked, to avoid any potentially health damaging effects, said the study authors.
Vitamin D deficiency is typically associated with impaired bone health but has also been linked with higher risks of acute respiratory tract infections, auto-immune diseases and cardiovascular diseases.
Low vitamin D levels could, therefore, have wide-ranging and undetected adverse effects, although more research is required to confirm the role of vitamin D in these conditions, noted researchers.
They said a link between low vitamin D levels and obesity had previously been reported but whether the effect was more associated with the type and location of fat was undetermined.
In their study, researchers from Vrije University and Leiden University examined the amount of total body fat and abdominal fat in participants and how it related to their vitamin D levels. The population study involved several thousand men and women aged between 45 and 65 years.
The researchers found that the amounts of both total and abdominal fat were associated with lower vitamin D levels in women, although abdominal fat had a greater impact.
However, in men, abdominal fat and liver fat was associated with lower vitamin D levels. In all cases the greater the amount of belly fat, the lower the levels of detected vitamin D.
“This strong association may point to a possible role for vitamin D in abdominal fat storage and function”
This was also the case after they adjusted for a number of possible influencing factors, including chronic disease, alcohol intake and levels of physical activity.
Study author Rachida Rafiq said “Although we did not measure vitamin D deficiency in our study, the strong relationship between increasing amounts of abdominal fat and lower levels of vitamin D suggests that individuals with larger waistlines are at a greater risk of developing deficiency, and should consider having their vitamin D levels checked.”
Ms Rafiq added: “Due to the observational nature of this study, we cannot draw a conclusion on the direction or cause of the association between obesity and vitamin D levels.
“However, this strong association may point to a possible role for vitamin D in abdominal fat storage and function,” she said.