A study performed by researchers at Drexel University School of Public Health have found that the combination of obesity and low levels of vitamin D are linked to increased insulin resistance and present a risk for diabetes.
Individually, vitamin D deficiency and obesity are both risk factors for diabetes. This is the first study to look at the combination of vitamin D deficiency and obesity and the risk factor they present for diabetes on such a large scale. The researchers analyzed data reported on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2001 – 2006, which represented nearly 6,000 respondents.
In the study, those respondents who had healthy levels of vitamin D had insulin resistance almost 20 times more often than the overall study population. However, those with low levels of vitamin D had much higher insulin resistance. Insulin is a chemical produced by the pancreas to regulate blood sugar levels in the body. People build a resistance to insulin so the pancreas have to work overtime to keep sugar regulated in the body. Eventually, this can lead to failure and that is when type II diabetes occurs. One problem of this study is that couldn’t figure out which factor came first. Was the respondent obese first and then developed vitamin D deficiency or vice versa?
Shaum Kabadi, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at Drexel said in a Drexel press release, “Our results suggest that the combination of these two factors increases the odds of insulin resistance to an even greater degree than would have been expected based on their individual contributions.
More study needs to be done, but further studies may indicate vitamin D supplements may be an effective preventative measure to reduce insulin resistance and diabetes in obese individuals. The study was published in the journal Diabetes Care.