First Lady Michelle Obama’s Task Force to Shed Light on the Epidemic of obesity and vitamin D deficiency
the following is a press release by the author of The Power of Vitamin D, and Take Charge of Your Diabetes - Sarfraz Zaidi, MD
Los Angeles, CA, Aug 4, 2010 – Vitamin D deficiency is particularly common among obese children and teenagers. Unfortunately, it remains undiagnosed and untreated. Vitamin D deficient children suffer from chronic fatigue, decreased stamina, decreased bone strength, generalized muscle aches and pains, frequent colds, and attacks of asthma. Consequently, they exercise less frequently which results in more weight gain and a vicious cycle sets in.
Most of the ill-effects of obesity such as pre-diabetes, diabetes and high blood pressure are mediated thru insulin resistance. Vitamin D deficiency worsens insulin resistance and all of its consequences. Obese children get a double dose of insulin resistance: one from obesity itself and the other from vitamin D deficiency. That’s why they are at such high risk for the consequences of insulin resistance such as pre-diabetes, diabetes and high blood pressure.
With First Lady Michelle Obama recent task force on fighting childhood obesity, author and medical expert Dr. Sarfraz Zaidi hopes that their findings will wake up Americans on the deleterious effects that vitamin D deficiency can have on obese children.
Vitamin D deficiency does not spare children of any geographic location or any race or ethnicity. However, according to Dr. Sarfraz Zaidi, medical expert and author of “Power of Vitamin D,” the following factors do make children and teenagers more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency:
1. Less Exposure to the sun due to sun phobia among parents, cultural customs and high latitudes such as in the Northeastern US.
2. Infants who are solely breast-fed, as breast milk contains only negligible amounts of vitamin D.
3. Skin pigmentation decreases the skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D from sun exposure. Therefore, the darker the skin, the less efficient is the synthesis of vitamin D.
4. Lastly, obesity is an important factor that causes vitamin D deficiency. Why? Because vitamin D is fat soluble and gets trapped in the fat cells. Consequently, less vitamin D is available for the rest of the body.
Both, Vitamin D deficiency and obesity have reached epidemic proportions. In a study published in 2008 in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, researchers reported vitamin D to be low in 74% of obese children and adolescents in the Wisconsin area. With new findings linking serious medical problems to Vitamin D deficiency, it seems more crucial than ever that children should be taught at a young age how to stay as healthy as possible.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s task force on childhood obesity may just help bring the awareness and spotlight on vitamin D deficiency being linked to obesity. According to government statistics, about 32% of children and adolescents today — 25 million young people — are obese or overweight. The goal of the First Lady’s task force is to try to solve childhood obesity in a generation. That means returning to a childhood obesity rate of 5% by 2030.
Although the task force is still in its early stages, Dr. Zaidi hopes that the task force will use the recent knowledge and findings on vitamin D deficiency in children as a way to improve their overall health and to push for more vitamin D testing.
“Obesity and vitamin D deficiency are intertwined. You treat one, the other gets treated as well. For example, if you treat vitamin D deficiency, you improve physical strength and get rid of fatigue, body aches and pains, which naturally increases your exercise level and in this way greatly helps in the treatment of obesity,” explains Dr. Zaidi.
The federal task force’s recommendations to reverse childhood obesity, include, but are not limited to:
* Restaurants should offer healthier choices on children’s menus
* The food and beverage industry should market nutritious foods, not junk foods, to kids
* Schools need to ensure elementary students get recess
* And, the federal government needs to improve the nutritional quality of food commodities provided to schools
In addition, Dr. Zaidi recommends to parents of children and teenagers that they focus on doing weight bearing exercises, such as power walking, jogging and running. Staying active and lean will help free up vitamin D from fat cells and allow it to be utilized by the rest of the body. As a result, kids will stay healthier and more in control of their weight too. Dr. Zaidi also recommends sensible sun exposure, a good calcium intake, and a daily dose of vitamin D supplement for children two months and older to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D.
ABOUT MEDICAL EXPERT SARFRAZ ZAIDI, MD:
Dr. Zaidi is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCLA and Director of the Jamila Diabetes and Endocrine Medical Center in Southern California. Dr. Zaidi’s book, “Power of Vitamin D,” discusses the vitamin D epidemic, how Vitamin D affects every organ system in the body, the role Vitamin D plays in the causation of most of the chronic illnesses and how to prevent and treat Vitamin D deficiency without the fear of its toxicity.