A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in October 2014 found a lack of B vitamins in children predicts obesity. The study was conducted in children aged 8 to 15. The researchers came from the University of Queensland, but the study was done on Mexican-American children who participated in the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2001 and 2004. Blood tests for vitamin B12 and folate levels and dietary questionnaires about vitamin B complex intake were done. The researchers measured body mass index (BMI), total body fat and trunk fat. All these parameters increased with age. Those children whose body weight was normal were found to have higher than average B12 levels and also higher folate levels. Dietary intake of B vitamins, particularly thiamine, riboflavin and folate were found to be associated with a lower body mass index.
Discussion: The authors did not comment on what could be responsible for the association found. It occurs to me when I hear about this type of data that too much junk food, or more courteously termed “processed food” in the children’s diet is responsible for the finding. The more processed food is, the fewer vitamins it contains. The ultimate junk foods are candies consisting of sugar. However, corn chips, fajitas, beans and bread contain empty carbohydrates without B complex vitamins. Mexican immigrant families do not have easy access to quality vegetables or fruit and they lack the knowledge of the importance of having several portions of fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the day. More seriously, a large segment of Mexican immigrants are financially deprived, and despite wanting the best for their children they are not having the means to buy healthy foods, but rely on the cheapest food sources: starches, fats, and sugars. It comes as no surprise that the researchers found a lack of B vitamins and folate when BMI and total body fat mass was increased, as a lot of over processed cheap foods (think macaroni and cheese or fries and ketchup) lack vital nutrients.
More info on:
1. Childhood obesity leads to teen obesity: http://www.askdrray.com/early-childhood-weight-gain-leads-to-weight-problems-in-teens/
2. Mediterranean diet is beneficial: http://nethealthbook.com/news/mediterranean-diet-benefits-us-workers/
Reference: J Nutr. 2014, Oct. 8