According to a new study, boys suffering from obesity undergo puberty earlier than the average boys. Researchers examined 527 Chilean boys in the age group of 4-7 and concluded that total body obesity, central obesity, and excess belly fat are all linked to the greater chances of undergoing puberty before the age of 9.
“With the increase in childhood obesity worldwide, there has been an advance in the age at which puberty begins in girls,” said Maria Veronica Mericq, lead investigator of the study. “However, in boys the evidence has been controversial.”
Puberty was assumed to be precocious by using a certain standard measure for boys that included the growth of testicles (more than three cubic centimeters) before the age of 9. The study team, for determining the central obesity, measured the waistline of each boy and for checking for total obesity, they calculated height and weight know the standard division score of the body mass index.
Mericq’s team concluded that as the age increased, total obesity increased, roughly 22% in boys of the age group of 6-7 and nearly 28.6% in boys around the age of 11.4. They further noted that Central obesity rose in that timeframe, from around 11.8% to 17.4%
Mericq reported that 9% of the boys underwent precocious puberty. For boys between the ages of 5 and 6, having obesity meant roughly 2.7 times greater odds of precocious puberty, and for the boys having central obesity, there was a chance higher by 6.4 times that they would undergo puberty before getting to the age of 9. She further explained that central obesity was more closely related to fat mass, as a higher BMI reflects increased muscle.
“Early puberty might increase the risk of behavior problems and in boys could be related to a higher incidence of testicular cancer in adulthood,” said Mericq. “Our results suggest that controlling the obesity epidemic in children could be useful in decreasing these risks.”