Childhood adiposity is a risk for early puberty, but not vice versa

  • Chen YC & al.
  • Metabolism
  • 15 Aug 2019

  • International Clinical Digest
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Takeaway

  • In this longitudinal study of the causal links between early puberty and childhood adiposity, these authors found that childhood adiposity is causally linked to early puberty, but not vice versa.

Why this matters

  • These findings suggest a unidirectional association between these 2 phenomena.
  • The authors urge obesity prevention and intervention programmes in the paediatric setting. 

Key results

  • Overweight and obesity at ages 7-10 years were predictors (ORs; 95% CIs) of early puberty/menarche (age, 11-12 years) among girls: 
    • Early puberty: 1.12 (1.09-1.15);
    • Early menarche: 1.18 (1.12-1.24);
    • Fat-free mass was the strongest predictor of early puberty: 1.21 (1.07-1.37); 
    • However, age at menarche did not predict adulthood BMI.
  • Association for boys (ORs; 95% CIs) was not as strong for overweight/obesity at age 10 years:
    • Early puberty: 1.04 (1.00-1.08).
    • Early voice breaking: 1.03 (1.00-1.05).
  • No association seen for puberty-related single nucleotide variants and BMI.
  • Longitudinal data showed that childhood adiposity could predict early puberty, but not the reverse. 

Study design

  • Data from the Taiwan Children Health Study for 3109 children ages 11-12 years, most followed to late adolescence.
  • Funding: National Health Research Institute of Taiwan, others.

Limitations

  • Early puberty onset in males is elusive to define.
  • Uniform population ethnicity makes generalisability unclear.