Compared to normal weight adults, obese adults more likely to lack key vitamins and minerals in their diets, a large new study suggests.
Recently published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers evaluated total nutrient intakes from foods and supplements in more than 18,000 subjects participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001–2008. The subjects were categorized by body weight status as either normal weight (body mass index [BMI] < 25), overweight (BMI ≥25 to < 30), or obese (BMI ≥30).
The researchers found that more than 40 percent of adults had inadequate intakes of vitamins A, C, D, E, calcium and magnesium, according to the study authors. Moreover, compared to normal weight adults, obese adults had 5 to 12 percent lower intakes of these nutrients.
“We conclude that obese adults compared to normal weight adults have lower micronutrient intake and higher prevalence of micronutrient inadequacy,” the study authors wrote.
Vitamins and minerals are essential for normal body function, maintenance, and metabolism. Because the human body cannot produce vitamins and minerals, they must be consumed from dietary and supplemental sources. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, recommends that Americans consume foods with more calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and fiber—as well as less sodium, added sugar, and solid fat—to meet their nutrient goals (2).
While multiple studies have examined the differences in nutrient intakes from different populations, few have actually compared the vitamin and mineral intake status of overweight and obese adults with normal weight adults (3-5). Notably, more than two thirds of the U.S. population is either overweight or obese and is at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes (6).
Even when in an overfed state, obese individuals have high rates of low micronutrient intakes (7). The current dietary recommended intakes for vitamins and mineral are established for healthy individuals—not individuals with obesity or chronic disease (8).
The authors of this study note that the dietary recommended intakes may not necessarily meet the needs of obese individuals who may require greater intakes of essential nutrients, especially under more restrictive eating such as during weight loss.
Some researchers have also hypothesized that low vitamin and mineral intakes may be contributing to weight gain and the development of metabolic issues (7). These suboptimal intakes in obese people may affect several bodily functions, the immune system, resulting in an increased risk of poor health outcomes (9). For instance, sufficient vitamin A intake may inhibit creation of fat cells (10), enhance fat loss (11), and regulate hormones (12), playing an important role in regulating body weight. Lack of vitamin D and calcium may also negatively influence energy balance, blood sugar, and insulin response (13).
This new study confirms that obese people are at an increased risk for nutrient inadequacy or deficiency, which may be worsened by following a restrictive diet plan without nutritional support. The study highlights the need for properly dosed vitamins and minerals in a weight-management program to ensure the body is functioning at optimal levels and to avoid the common pitfall of nutritional inadequacy.
- Agarwal S, Reider C, Brooks JR, Fulgoni III VL. Comparison of Prevalence of Inadequate Nutrient Intake Based on Body Weight Status of Adults in the United States: An Analysis of NHANES 2001GÇô2008. J Am Coll Nutr 2014;1-9.
- McGuire S. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, January 2011. Adv Nutr 2011;2:293-4.
- Damms-Machado A, Weser G, Bischoff SC. Micronutrient deficiency in obese subjects undergoing low calorie diet. Nutr J 2012;11.
- Tidwell DK, Valliant MW. Higher amounts of body fat are associated with inadequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D in African American women. Nutr Res 2011;31:527-36.
- Gillis L, Gillis A. Nutrient inadequacy in obese and non-obese youth. Can J Diet Pract Res 2005;66:237-42.
- Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, Curtin LR. Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults, 1999-2008. JAMA 2010;303:235-41.
- Kaidar-Person O, Person B, Szomstein S, Rosenthal RJ. Nutritional deficiencies in morbidly obese patients: a new form of malnutrition? Obes Surg 2008;18:1028-34.
- Hellwig JP, Otten JJ, Meyers LD. Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements. National Academies Press, 2006.
- Garc¡a OP, Long KZ, Rosado JL. Impact of micronutrient deficiencies on obesity. Nutr Rev 2009;67:559-72.
- Xue JC, Schwarz EJ, Chawla A, Lazar MA. Distinct stages in adipogenesis revealed by retinoid inhibition of differentiation after induction of PPARgamma. Molec Cell Biol 1996;16:1567-75.
- Kim HS, Hausman DB, Compton MM et al. Induction of Apoptosis by All-trans-Retinoic Acid and C2-Ceramide Treatment in Rat StromalGÇôVascular Cultures. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2000;270:76-80.
- Menendez C, Lage M, Peino R et al. Retinoic acid and vitamin D (3) powerfully inhibit in vitro leptin secretion by human adipose tissue. J Endocrinol 2001;170:425-31.
- Pittas AG, Lau J, Hu FB, Dawson-Hughes B. The role of vitamin D and calcium in type 2 diabetes. A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2007;92:2017-29.
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