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Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency among schoolchildren in Greece: the role of sex, degree of urbanisation and seasonality

  • Yannis Manios (a1), George Moschonis (a1), Toine Hulshof (a2), Anne-Sophie Bourhis (a2), George L. J. Hull (a3), Kirsten G. Dowling (a3), Mairead E. Kiely (a3) (a4) and Kevin D. Cashman (a3) (a5)...
Abstract

The current study was aiming to report the prevalence of suboptimal vitamin D status among schoolchildren in Greece and investigate the role of sex, urbanisation and seasonality on vitamin D status. A sample of 2386 schoolchildren (9–13 years old) from four distinct prefectures was examined. The prevalence of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration <30 and <50 nmol/l (vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency respectively) was 5·2 and 52·5 %, respectively. Girls had a higher prevalence of 25(OH)D<30 (7·2 v. 3·2 %) and 50 nmol/l (57·0 v. 48·0 %) than boys (P<0·001). The highest prevalence rates of 25(OH)D<30 and 50 nmol/l (9·1 and 73·1 %, respectively) were observed during spring (April to June), whereas the lowest (1·5 and 31·9 %, respectively) during autumn (October to December). The prevalence of 25(OH)D<50 nmol/l was higher in urban/semi-urban than rural regions, particularly during spring months (74·6 v. 47·2 %; P<0·001). Female sex, urban/semi-urban region of residence and spring months were found to increase the likelihood of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency, with the highest OR observed for spring months (7·47; 95 % CI 3·23, 17·3 and 5·14; 95 % CI 3·84, 6·89 for 25(OH)D<30 and 50 nmol/l respectively). In conclusion, despite the southerly latitude, the prevalence of low vitamin D status among primary schoolchildren in Greece is comparable to or exceeds the prevalence reported among children and adolescents on a European level. Sub-populations at highest risk are girls in urban/semi-urban areas during spring months, thus indicating the need for effective initiatives to support adequate vitamin D status in these population groups.

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* Corresponding author: Y. Manios, fax +30 210 9549141, email manios@hua.gr
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