Obese four year old girls are expected to reach puberty before their 10th birthday. This was revealed by a study in UK which tracked children from when they were infants to when they reached 12 years. This study is the first of its kind and established a clear link between early obesity and early puberty.
According to the researchers, obesity trend in Britain is similar to that in US and it is time now for the government to act upon this issue. In children obesity affects their overall development as there is a disturbance in hormone level from childhood to menopausal times.
Dr. Joyce Lee from the University of Michigan who headed this study said that is the first longitudinal study which monitored girls from 36 months to 12 years. He also highlighted the long term psychological and social effects of early puberty like alcoholism and smoking.
This study was published in the American journal Pediatrics. Four hundred girls were observed and factors like their weight, early signs of puberty, breast development, and onset of first menstrual period were recorded. Routine interviews with mothers of children were also conducted. The exhaustive analysis revealed that childhood obesity clearly triggers early puberty.
This research also discusses the potential drawbacks of early puberty like the psychiatric disorders, early initiation in to alcohol consumption, sexual intercourse, teenage pregnancy and high risk of reproductive cancers and adult obesity.
Dr. Lee opined that in addition to finding the reasons for association of obesity with early puberty, it is also important to know if weight control measures at an early age have any effect on slowing down puberty age.