Obesity triggers early puberty

Childhood obesity is contributing to a worrying new global phenomenon — a sharp increase in the number of girls reaching puberty by nine years of age. Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System have found that girls who are obese at the age of three are more likely to hit puberty around their ninth birthday.

The study, published in the American journal Pediatrics on Monday, tracked 354 girls from when they were two years old till they were 12. Nearly half (168) of them showed signs of puberty by nine years — a majority of such girls were either obese or overweight at 36 months.

Researchers said that for every extra point on the girls’ body-mass index scores at 36 months, the chances of early earlier puberty increased by 44%.

This finding follows a University of Bristol study in 2000 which showed that one in every six girls reached puberty before the age of eight.

Precocious puberty is fast becoming common among girls — a trend that, doctors say, entails health and social problems. Studies have shown that children who face precocious puberty are more prone to psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety and are often humiliated and bullied by their classmates.

They are more likely to start drinking and have sex at an earlier age, risking teenaged pregnancy. They also have higher rates of obesity and breast cancer as adults.

Source:The Times Of India

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