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Vitamin D, obesity, and obesity-related chronic disease among ethnic minorities : a systematic review

journal contribution
posted on 2011-09-01, 00:00 authored by Andre Renzaho, Jennifer HallidayJennifer Halliday, Caryl NowsonCaryl Nowson
Objective : To assess the association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) status and obesity, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), the metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in ethnic minorities.

Methods : Databases searched were CINHAL with full text, Global Health, MEDLINE with full text, and PsycINFO from 1980 through 2010 (February). Studies were included if they 1) targeted immigrants from low- to high-income countries or ethnic minorities, 2) focused primarily on 25(OH)D and its relation to obesity, T2DM, and/or CVDs, and 3) were published in peer-reviewed journals. The influences of key confounders such as age, gender, and ethnicity on any observed relations were also assessed. Due to the heterogeneity of study characteristics, only a narrative synthesis was undertaken.

Results :
Ethnic minorities had significantly higher rates of vitamin D insufficiency (25[OH]D <50 nmol/L; children 43.6–48.7% versus 10%; adults 30.3–53% versus 13.7–26%) than their white counterparts. None of the studies reported a prevalence of obesity stratified by ethnicity. There was evidence supporting links between vitamin D deficiency and obesity-related chronic diseases, with 14 of 14 studies reporting a statistically significant result with a measurement of obesity, four of five for T2DM, four of five for CVDs, and one of one for the metabolic syndrome. However, the strength of the association varied across ethnic groups depending on the index used to measure adiposity, T2DM, and CVDs. Because most of the included studies were cross-sectional and there were variations in outcome measurements, it was not possible to determine the relative contributions of obesity or vitamin D insufficiency to CVD risk and risk of T2DM or which is the initial driver It is possible both have a role to play.

Conclusion :
Further research specific to migrant populations using randomized controlled trials are required to establish whether causal links between 25(OH)D and obesity-related chronic disease exist, and whether vitamin D supplementation could be valuable in the prevention or treatment of obesity-related diseases.









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Elsevier Inc.


New York, N.Y.







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

Copyright notice

2011, Elsevier