Childhood obesity linked to later onset of puberty in boys

February 2, 2010 in Nutrition for Children and Teenagers, Nutrition Topics in the News, Weight Management

Childhood obesity linked to later onset of puberty in boys
In one of the first studies of its kind, researchers from the University of Michigan have found a link between childhood body weight and a delayed onset of puberty in boys.

The researchers studied 401 boys from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in the U.S who were born in 1991.  Their height and weight was regularly measured between the ages of 2 to 12 years and compared to their onset of puberty, which was measured using the Tanner scale, a tool to assess the physical development in children.   The study participants were divided into groups based on their BMI, including low, intermediate, and high.

Researchers found that a higher BMI during childhood was associated with a later onset of puberty.   In fact, only seven percent of boys in the low BMI group experienced a late onset of puberty, compared to 13.3 and 14 percent in the intermediate and high BMI groups.  

Interestingly, just the opposite is true for girls.  Studies have found that heavier girls tend to develop and reach puberty earlier rather than later.

With childhood obesity rates on the rise in many developed countries, these findings certainly shed some light on how excess body weight can impact children’s growth and development.

The study findings were published in the Archives of Pediatrics ad Adolescent Medicine.

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