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Relation of Obesity in Childhood to Premature Adolescence Alyssa F. McCall William Carey University
Children with a higher fat percentage do indeed undergo puberty before more athletic. leptin .CHILDHOOD OBESITY AND PREMATURE ADOLESCENCE 2 Abstract It has been suggested that early puberty in children is leading to an increase in certain diseases and illnesses in adulthood. The production of the protein leptin in adipose tissue has been identified as a possible link between obese children and timing of puberty. The following studies discussed suggest there is a causal relationship between increasing obesity and decreasing age of menarche. childhood obesity. Keywords: premature adolescence. Many studies have been conducted to try to prove the relation of the increased percentage of obese children in our country today. the cause of early maturation must be determined. lean children. In order to try to prevent early onset of adolescence in children.
This protein is responsible for controlling the release of gonadotropins.379 equally white and black girls that were recruited at age 9.54 years. but in boys it is harder to choose a distinct universal marker. (Kaplowitz. skinfold thickness and stage of pubertal maturation. 2008) Both the age of onset of breast development. They examined a group of 2. but overeating and becoming obese as a child can accelerate this process. and age of menarche are related to obesity in girls. between 12 and 13. who had higher BMI’s than late onset girls. the percentage of girls who were 10 to 15 years of age and had a BMI >85th percentile increased from 16% to 27%. this marker tends to be menarche. Lung. it is more prevalent in the United States than in other countries. Frisch and Revelle3 observed that the mean weight at menarche was constant at ∼48 kg for girls who reached menarche before age 12. 2012) Recent data shows that the average age at menarche dropped from 12.0 years in black girls for menarche. The number of overweight children has doubled or tripled between the early 1970s and the late 1990s.7 years in white girls.. there is less data available about boys and obesity affecting age of puberty.CHILDHOOD OBESITY AND PREMATURE ADOLESCENCE Relation of Obesity in Childhood to Premature Adolescence 3 In our country and all over the world today. Recent analysis from this study showed that the mean age was 12. Current evidence suggests that a threshold level of leptin may be required for initiation of puberty. and the children with very low fat percentages are only going to have trace amounts. The earlier maturing girls had consistently higher BMI’s than the midonset girls. (Kaplowitz. Gonadotropins must be released in order for a child to undergo puberty. weight.. After reviewing longitudinal growth data for 181 normal girls. Therefore.75 to 12. there has to be a universal marker of the onset of sexual maturity. they examined their height. There is a protein called Leptin produced by fat cells. Naturally the child’s body will gain weight and begin menarche. (Kaplowitz. 2001) This protein provides the link between body fat stores and the timing of puberty. children are experiencing puberty at lower ages. 2008) This led him to believe that a certain fat percentage was required for the onset of menarche. 2008) In order to study the age at which a child undergoes puberty. and after age 14. (Cheng et al. This could be largely due to the increased weight gain in children of this generation. The eating habits and health of our nation has declined greatly over the years. It is assumed that the same results would occur in studies about boys. Data from nationally representative surveys of United States children shows that obesity increased dramatically from 1976-1980 to 1999-2004. In girls. and Blood Institute. (Kaplowitz et al. 2008) Figuring out what causes a child to begin sexually maturing is very important as well in studying what could be causing them to undergo premature onset. Children with more fat stores are going to have leptin being produced. . However. Every year. One of these studies was conducted by the National Heart. There is no threshold level of weight or fatness that is critical for the onset of menarche. (Kaplowitz. At the same time. between 13 and 14. (Kaplowitz. and 12. 2008) There have been several studies over the years to prove the relation of obesity to premature adolescence. but children that are athletic will mature much later than those with higher levels of fat.
Children with BMI’s that are in the 95th percentile and higher are considered to be obese. The relation of higher BMI’s in the pubertal girls could very well be because of these hormones increasing.. but it should not be overlooked.CHILDHOOD OBESITY AND PREMATURE ADOLESCENCE 4 Evidence from the Girls Health Enrichment Multi-site studies also shows a relationship between high BMI and the age of menarche.79 fold greater for girls at the 75th percentile for BMI versus the girls in the 25th percentile. her body will start to produce more estrogen and other hormones that cause their body to start storing more fat. Pubertal girls were 8 times more likely to have a BMI in the 95th percentile or higher. . All of these studies show a relation to early puberty and increased BMI’s in young girls. 2001) This analysis suggests there is a causal relationship between increasing obesity and the decline in average age at menarche. In this study. 2008) One more study called the Bogalusa Heart Study examined 5-17 year old girls. is the alternative question of whether the early puberty is triggering the weight gain..5 months in blacks and about 2 months in whites. There is less evidence out there supporting this theory. according the mentioned studies. What they don’t address. The problem with this theory is there is no evidence confirming it. Much more in depth studies of all the hormones released at the time of puberty need to be conducted. they examined 147 black girls between the ages 8 and 10. Increasing stages of breast development were positively related to BMI and waist circumference. (Kaplowitz et al. Other methods of determining body fat can be expensive and harder to conduct on a large group of subjects. When a young girl undergoes the onset of puberty. Over a 20 year period the median menarcheal age decreased by about 9. (Kaplowitz. The reason that they measure the BMI of the young girls in order to determine fat percentage of the body is because it is easy and effective. (Kaplowitz et al. One thing that is indeed true is that there is a relationship between higher BMI in children and the age at which they begin sexual maturation. The relationship seems to be a causal relationship. it is not completely a proven fact that obesity in childhood is the cause of early adolescence. 2001) In conclusion. but it is not proven. Early menarche (before age 11) was 1.
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