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  • Open Access

Vitamin D status in overweight and obese Malaysian school children and its relationship with metabolic syndrome

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International Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology20152015 (Suppl 1) :O50

  • Published:


  • Insulin Resistance
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Waist Circumference
  • Oral Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Resistance Index

Obesity is a rising health problem, with increasing prevalence in children and adolescents. Lower vitamin D is linked to increased adiposity and higher risk of metabolic syndrome. However, evidence from tropical Asian countries is limited, especially in children and adolescents.

To examine the relationship between vitamin D level and BMI, abnormal glucose profile, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome markers in the overweight/ obese secondary school children.

A cross sectional study in multiethnic secondary school children aged 13 -17 years was performed. Anthropometric measurements: height, weight, waist circumference and blood pressure were obtained. Blood for fasting glucose/ lipids/ insulin, and vitamin D (25 (OH)D) were taken. Oral glucose tolerance test was also performed. Insulin resistance indices were calculated based on homeostasis model assessment (HOMA) index.

A total of 543 subjects were enrolled. Forty eight percent were overweight/obese. Most of them (62%) were vitamin D deficient (<50 nmol/L), 32% were vitamin D insufficient (50 to <75 nmol/L) and only 6% were vitamin D sufficient (≥ 75 nmol/L). Mean 25(OH)D in the overweight/ obese group was 44.3±15.9nmol/L and was significantly lower compared to the non overweight/obese group (47.9±19.4nmol/L); (p=0.018). Females had lower mean vitamin D level (43.2±15.9nmol/L) compared to males (53.6±19.6nmol/L) (p<0.001). The Chinese had the highest mean vitamin D level (65.9±16.4nmol/L), followed by Malays (44.2±16.9nmol/L) and Indians (39.5±13.3nmol/L) (p<0.001).

Among those who were overweight and obese, metabolic syndrome was present in 58 (22%) of them. No significant relationship was found between 25(OH)D level and abnormal glucose profile, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome markers among the overweight/ obese participants. The overweight/ obese females had 78% prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, compared to 59% in overweight/ obese males. Overweight/ obese Indians had the highest prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (82%) followed by Malays (70%) and Chinese (20%).

Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in Malaysian adolescents despite an abundance of sunlight. Lower vitamin D levels are associated with female gender, ethnic groups with darker skin and obesity. However, no relationship was found between vitamin D deficiency and metabolic syndrome.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Paediatrics, University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Institute of Medical Research, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Department of Research Methodology and Biostatics, University Sains Malaysia, Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, Malaysia


© Samingan et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2015

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