BMC Public Health (Mar 2016)

Vitamin D level and its association with adiposity among multi-ethnic adults in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: a cross sectional study

  • I. S. Shafinaz,
  • F. M. Moy

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16, no. 1
pp. 1 – 9


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Abstract Background Vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in both temperate as well as tropical countries. Obesity is one of the factors contributing to vitamin D deficiency. As our country has a high prevalence of overweight and obesity, we aimed to study serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) level and its association with adiposity using various adiposity indicators; and to study other risk factors that affect serum 25(OH)D level among multi-ethnic adults in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Methods This was a cross sectional study conducted with a multistage sampling. All permanent teachers working in government secondary schools in Kuala Lumpur were invited for the study. The data collection included serum 25(OH)D, Parathyroid Hormone (PTH), body fat percentage, waist circumference, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure. Demographic characteristics, sun avoidance, sun exposure and physical activity were enquired from the participants using a self-administered questionnaire. The data was analyzed using a complex sample analysis. Results A total of 858 participants were recruited. Majority of them were Malays, females and had tertiary education. The overall prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (<20 ng/ml) was 67.4 %. Indian participants (80.9 %) had the highest proportion of vitamin D deficiency, followed by Malays (75.6 %), others (44.9 %) and Chinese (25.1 %). There was a significant negative association between serum 25(OH)D level with BMI (β = −0.23) and body fat percentage (β = −0.14). In the multivariate linear regression analysis, Malays, Indians and females (p < 0.001); higher BMI and larger waist circumference (p < 0.05) were significantly associated with lower serum 25(OH)D level. The full model explained 32.8 % of the variation between participants in the serum 25(OH)D level. The two most influential factors affecting serum 25(OH)D level were ethnicity and gender. Conclusions The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among our participants was high. Adiposity was associated with serum 25(OH)D level. Skin pigmentation and gender based behaviours were more dominant in contributing to serum 25(OH)D level. Health education should be targeted in weight management, gender based behaviours on sun exposure, as skin pigmentation is non-modifiable.