Vitamin D deficiency common among adolescents evaluated for weight-loss surgery

Most adolescents preparing for weight-loss, or bariatric, surgery are deficient in vitamin D, a new study demonstrates. The results to be presented at The Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.

"This is particularly important prior to where weight loss and decreased calcium and absorption in some procedures may place these patients at further risk," said study lead author Marisa Censani, M.D., pediatric-endocrinology fellow at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York City. "These results provide insight into prevalence and risk factors for pre-existing vitamin D deficiency in obese adolescents prior to bariatric surgery."

In the United States, weight-loss surgery is becoming an increasingly common procedure due to the , which affects people of all ages, including children. One of the most common types is gastric-bypass surgery, which involves surgically removing a portion of the stomach, thereby reducing its size and ability to hold large amounts of food.

While highly effective at controlling weight, weight-loss surgery presents certain challenges. One of the greatest post-surgical difficulties is maintaining , particularly with respect to factors associated with since adolescents have not yet reached their peak bone mass.

Vitamin D is found in foods such as eggs, milk, and fish, as well as the sun. The vitamin plays an essential role in regulating the amount of the minerals calcium and phosphorus circulating in the blood.

While previous studies have found an increased risk of vitamin D deficiency among adults evaluated for weight-loss surgery, whether this deficiency also occurred among morbidly obese adolescents remained unclear. is defined in adults as having a weight-to-height ratio, or BMI, greater than 40; a healthy BMI is no more than 24.9.

In one of the first studies of its kind, Censani and her co-investigators found that more than half of adolescents undergoing evaluation for weight-loss surgery were vitamin D deficient, and 8 percent had severe deficiencies. Slightly less than one-fifth had adequate vitamin D levels. Patients with the highest BMIs were the most likely to be vitamin deficient.

In other findings, investigators identified several racial differences. African Americans were the most likely to be vitamin D deficient, while Caucasians were the least likely to have a deficiency. Specific percentages of vitamin D deficiency among racial subgroups were:

  • 82 percent of African Americans
  • 59 percent of Hispanics
  • 37 percent of Caucasians

"These results support screening all morbidly obese adolescents for , and treating those who are deficient, particularly prior to bariatric procedures that could place these patients at further risk," Censani said.

Investigators analysed the medical records of 236 who were being considered for bariatric surgery between March 2006 and June 2011. Of these patients, 219 provided medical records that included data on vitamin D levels. Sixty-five percent were female, their average age was 16 years, and average BMI was about 48. Forty-three percent were Caucasian, 35 percent were Hispanic, and 15 percent were African American.

Related Stories

Vitamin D deficiency high among trauma patients

date Feb 07, 2012

New research presented at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) found that 77 percent of trauma patients had deficient or insufficient levels of vitamin D.

Obese adolescents lacking vitamin D

date Apr 27, 2011

A new study from Hasbro Children's Hospital has found that most obese adolescents are lacking in vitamin D. The researchers call for increased surveillance of vitamin D levels in this population and for further studies to ...

Recommended for you

Noise from fireworks threatens young ears

date Jul 03, 2015

(HealthDay)—The Fourth of July weekend is a time for celebrations and beautiful fireworks displays. But, parents do need to take steps to protect their children's ears from loud fireworks, a hearing expert ...

Many new teen drivers 'crash' in simulated driving task

date Jul 03, 2015

(HealthDay)—Around four in 10 newly licensed teen drivers "crashed" in a simulated driving test, suggesting that many adolescents lack the skills they need to stay safe on the road, according to a new study.

Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal

date Jul 03, 2015

Aetna will spend about $35 billion to buy rival Humana and become the latest health insurer bulking up on government business as the industry adjusts to the federal health care overhaul.

Feeling impulsive or frustrated? Take a nap

date Jul 03, 2015

Taking a nap may be an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration, according to a University of Michigan study.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.