Too much time inside has left millions of American kids with shockingly low levels of Vitamin D, two new studies conclude. Roughly 9% of all 1- to 21-year-olds—7.6 million—were found to be Vitamin D deficient—putting them at higher risk for bone problems, heart disease, diabetes, and other ailments—while another 61% have levels deemed insufficient. “It’s astounding,” says one researcher. “At first we couldn’t believe the numbers.”
Vitamin D is produced mainly by exposure to sunlight and drinking milk, so researchers blamed the deficiency on the usual suspects—video games, TV, and junk food—along with sunscreen. “This appears to be another result of our unhealthy lifestyles, including a sedentary society that doesn’t go out in the sun much,” said one. Levels were especially low in girls, adolescents, and those with dark skin.