Low intakes of B vitamins may increase the risk for childhood obesity

October 22, 2014

A new study from Australia reports that low blood concentrations of vitamin B1, B2, B12 and folate seem to play a role in the development of fat cells and childhood obesity.

The study analyzed data of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to investigate a potential association between serum vitamin B12 and folate concentrations and intakes of B vitamins with body fat by in 1131 Mexican American children between 8 and 15 years of age (1). The data showed that participants with higher blood concentrations of vitamin B12 and folate as well as participants with increased intakes of thiamine, riboflavin and folate had a significantly lower risk of developing obesity

The researchers commented that the findings for intakes suggest that some B vitamins may play a role in the development of fat cells (adipogenesis) through their important roles in energy homeostasis, thermoregulation, and bio-energy metabolism. B vitamins generally are required for metabolism of fats and carbohydrates and for improving lipid and lipoprotein metabolism. Deficiencies in B vitamins may affect energy metabolism, leading to increased production of reactive oxidants and increased inflammatory responses, and may also promote fatty acid production (lipogenesis), leading to increased adiposity (2). A number of earlier studies already reported an association between adiposity and both serum concentrations of vitamin B and intake of B vitamins among children (3, 4). The new results, if further confirmed, could have important implications for the development of interventions that more effectively reduce childhood and adolescent obesity in populations such as Mexican American children who may be at a greater risk of obesity, the scientists concluded.


  1. Gunanti I. R. et al. Low Serum Vitamin B-12 and Folate Concentrations and Low Thiamin and Riboflavin Intakes Are Inversely Associated with GreaterAdiposity in Mexican American Children. J Nutr. Published online October 2014.
  2. Folsom A. R. et al. B vitamin status and inflammatory markers. Atherosclerosis. 2003; 169:169–174.
  3. Pinhas-Hamiel O. et al. Obese children and adolescents: a risk group for low vitamin B12 concentration. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2006; 160:933–936.
  4. Hassapidou M. et al. Energy intake, diet composition, energy expenditure, and body fatness of adolescents in northern Greece. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2006; 14:855–862.