DETROIT (WWJ) – A new study finds low levels of the “sunshine vitamin” could be keeping some people on the couch.

Vitamin D may make the difference between an active and a more sedentary lifestyle among severely obese people, according to research out Ireland.

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Researchers found severely obese people who were also vitamin D-deficient walked more slowly and were less active overall than their counterparts who had healthy vitamin D levels.

The study, published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM),  measured physical functioning and vitamin D levels in about 250 severely obese people.

Researchers found the group with the highest vitamin D levels had the fastest walking times and highest amount of self-reported physical activity.
This group also had the lowest average BMI of study volunteers.

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One of the study’s authors, Tomás Ahern of St. Columcille’s Hospital and St. Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin, said the severely obese are already eight times more likely to have poor physical function than people with a healthy BMI.

“Improving vitamin D status should improve quality of life and may decrease the risk of early death in people with severe obesity,” Ahern said, in a media release. “This could be a simple matter of spending more time outside, since sun exposure can boost the body’s natural vitamin D production.”

A person whose body mass index exceeds 40 is considered severely obese.  According to the study’s authors, about 6.5 of American adults are in this category.


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