Carotenoids May Improve Obesity-Related Markers in Children

A study has found that a mix of carotenoids may help children who struggle with obesity, which affects around one in five school-aged children. The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and found that taking a mixed-carotenoid supplement for six months led to improvements in children’s obesity-related markers. The double-blind, randomized trial included 20 ten-year-old children whose BMIs were in the 90th percentile or higher for their age and gender. The participants received a daily mixed-carotenoid supplement, containing beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, lycopene, astaxanthin, and gamma tocopherol, or a placebo, for six months. Researchers measured the children’s beta-carotene levels, abdominal subcutaneous and visceral fat, BMI percentile, waist-to-height ratio, and adiponectin levels (a hormone made by fat cells that helps regulate metabolism). They found that:

  • At the beginning of the study, the children’s beta-carotene levels were inversely associated with their BMI percentiles, waist-to-height ratios, and amounts of both types of abdominal fat.
  • After six months, children taking the mixed-carotenoid supplement had an average drop of 0.19 in their BMI percentile, a reduction of 0.03 in waist-to-height ratio, and a 4% decrease in subcutaneous abdominal fat compared with children not taking the supplement.
  • After six months, adiponectin levels increased by 23% more in the supplemented children than in the children receiving a placebo. This is notable because low levels of adiponectin have been associated with obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

While this research suggests that supplementing with carotenoids might help children struggling with obesity, more research is needed to understand whether these supplements could have a meaningful impact in the long term. In the meantime, kids can get a wealth of carotenoids and other important nutrients from eating colorful foods—pink and red seafood like salmon and shrimp contain astaxanthin. Dark green, orange, red, and yellow fruits and vegetables are rich in the rest of the carotenoids used in this study.

Source: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism

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