Vitamin D Deficiency More Closely Associated With Diabetes Than Obesity

Vitamin D Not Linked to Type 2 Diabetes
Vitamin D Not Linked to Type 2 Diabetes
People with vitamin D deficiency appear to be more likely to have diabetes, regardless of BMI.

People with vitamin D deficiency may be more likely to have diabetes, despite BMI, new data published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism indicate.

“The major strength of this study is that it compares vitamin D levels in people at a wide range of weights (from lean to morbidly obese subjects) while taking whether they had diabetes into account,” one study author, Mercedes Clemente-Postigo, MSc, of Instituto de Investigación Biomédica de Málaga (IBIMA) at Complejo Hospitalario de Málaga (Virgen de la Victoria) and Universidad de Málaga in Malaga, Spain, said in a press release.

In a scientific statement on the non-skeletal effects of vitamin D, the Endocrine Society notes that research suggests that people with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to be obese as well as have type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome when compared to those with normal levels.

The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study to evaluate serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) and vitamin D receptor gene expression in adipose tissue according to BMI and glycemic status and the effect of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3] on adipose tissue according to BMI.

Two cohorts were evaluated. One included 118 participants classified according to BMI (lean, overweight, obese and morbidly obese) and their glycemic status (normoglycemic and prediabetic and diabetic). The second included 30 obese participants who were classified as normoglycemic and prediabetic and diabetic.

The researchers found that obese participants without glucose metabolism disorders had higher levels of 25(OH)D, as compared with participants with diabetes. Similarly, lean participants with diabetes or another glucose metabolism disorder were more likely to have low levels of 25(OH)D (P<.05).

Results also revealed a negative correlation between 25(OH)D levels and homeostasis model of assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR; r=–0.200; P=.032) and glucose (r=–2.95; P=.001). However, this was not the case for BMI.

Data also showed higher vitamin D receptor gene expression in the morbidly obese group vs. other BMI groups (P<.05). Additionally, 1,25(OH)2D3 increased vitamin D receptor gene expression in adipose tissue from obese participants (P<.05) but not in adipose tissue from lean participants.

“Our findings indicate that vitamin D is associated more closely with glucose metabolism than obesity,” one of the study’s other authors, Manuel Macías-González, PhD, of Complejo Hospitalario de Málaga (Virgen de la Victoria) and the University of Málaga, said in the release.

“The study suggests that vitamin D deficiency and obesity interact synergistically to heighten the risk of diabetes and other metabolic disorders. The average person may be able to reduce their risk by maintaining a healthy diet and getting enough outdoor activity.”


  1. Clemente-Postigo M et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015;doi:10.1210/jc.2014-3016.