Obesity May Delay Puberty in Boys, Study Shows

Obesity may actually delay puberty in young boys, according to a new study.   However, obese girls are significantly more likely to hit puberty before girls of a normal weight.

Puberty can be a challenge no matter what shape or size you are. But now, a new study suggests that obesity could actually delay puberty in young boys. A new study, which appears in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, followed more than 400 boys and revealed that obese boys are 50 percent less likely to enter puberty by age 11½ than boys who are a normal weight.

Interestingly, previous studies in girls showed the opposite trend – girls who are obese are significantly more likely to hit puberty before girls whose weight is normal. But, the new findings indicate that childhood obesity could cause a delay in maturity for boys – a condition with unknown and possibly wide-ranging consequences.

Researchers say that obesity in boys can negatively affect their mental and physical growth and development, which in turn can have severe effects on their self-esteem. Obese children already tend to be teased by their peers, and developing more slowly in other ways may only add fuel to the fire.

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Although the latest findings give some indication that puberty works differently in boys and girls, the exact cause of the developmental delay in obese boys remains unknown.

However, researchers say there may be one positive outcome from this study: Parents armed with this knowledge will see the effects of obesity on their children at an early age, and early intervention may prevent them from developing other illnesses attributed to obesity, such as diabetes and heart disease, later in life.

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