Childhood Obesity May Cause Earlier Puberty. Should We Be Worried?

A new study proves a connection exists between early puberty in girls and obesity. As if we needed another reason to be concerned about the childhood obesity epidemic.

The results of the study aren’t entirely surprising, as it has been shown that obesity can alter the levels of reproductive hormones. This, in turn, can cause puberty to start sooner. The most recent study looked specifically at breast development as the marker of puberty, and studied girls ages 6-8 over the course of seven years.

Researchers with the study found that girls who had a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) may start developing sooner than their thinner peers. In some cases it was up to a full year sooner, than and as early as second grade. It was also found that black girls in particular are maturing sooner. The number of first-grade girls with developing breasts has tripled in the last 15 years.

While a high BMI cannot be pinpointed as the only cause of earlier puberty, environmental factors may play a part as well, it is certainly one of the most disturbing. Girls have been reaching puberty at younger ages for some time, which has led to creation of products like child-sized sanitary pads and deodorants aimed at children still in elementary school.

Girls who mature sooner than their peers due to factors like BMI face many health risks as they age. Early puberty has been linked to a variety of health concerns and chronic health problems like diabetes and heart disease. These are also health problems that obese individuals face. Mental health issues may develop like problems with self-esteem and depression.

Though only breast development was researched in this study, the people behind it hope to look at other markers of puberty in relation to BMI soon. Until they do, it will be hard to say conclusively that BMI is a direct influence on the onset of puberty. However, parents may want to keep a watchful eye on their young children and be on the lookout for signs of obesity and early puberty.

With the scary thought of multiple health concerns floating around in their heads, it may be easy for parents to want to buckle down on their child’s weight. However, it’s important not to be too adamant about having kids lose weight. Too much emphasis on weight loss at a young age could spur disordered eating. Instead, focus on eating foods that are nutritious and make sure kids spend some part of each day being active.


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Natasha Salgado
natasha s3 years ago

Well this is very unpleasant many are saying on here---GMO"s may be very much one of the guilty culprits among other reasons including terrible lifestyle choices. Thank you

Amanda S.
Amanda S3 years ago

I was a chubby kid from a fat family and I didn't hit puberty til I was almost 16, so I reject this notion.

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W3 years ago

I really don't think this is the major reason. I worked for many families when I was the cleaning lady. I worked for one family where the 8-yr.old girl was shaving her legs!! At Eight???
The following year she came into her first mense.

Now she was a skinny kid. But - I could never get over all the pre-Packaged food in the house. Nothing fresh at all, not with her two working parents in the 1980's. Everything was microwave-ready. So while obesity may be playing some role, I think it's far more likely the problems lie within our environment.

Emma Rose
Emma Rose3 years ago

Childhood Obesity May Cause Earlier Puberty. Should We Be Worried?

well if a child reach puberty at early means she can get pregnant at early age....her body is not mature mentally or span will be have to monitor what kind of food you feed your child.

Robert O.
Robert O3 years ago

Very scary and worrisome.

Dmitry Nikiforov
Dmitry Nikiforov3 years ago

Thank you

Donna Ferguson
Donna F3 years ago


Anne Moran
Anne M3 years ago

Looking at today's kids,, yeah, we should be worried... Don't bring any crap in the house and they won't get sooo heavy, and will live a happier and healthier life...

Lynn C.
Lynn C3 years ago


Catherine Smith
Catherine Heckel3 years ago

My father in law, who is a retired OB/GYN, and I were just talking about the subject this morning. He readily agrees with the theory of obesity and early puberty. I sent him this article. Thanks for putting it out there.