Obesity Linked to Early Onset Puberty in Girls

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The study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, looked at 1,239 girls aged 6 to 8. At age 7, 15% had started developing breasts; by age 8, that number had increased to 27%. This is a big increase from a similar study done in 1997.

Apparently, girls who were overweight or obese were more likely to to grow breasts earlier, and the authors hypothesize that’s because body fat can produce sex hormones. One of the reasons for concern is that the earlier a girl hits puberty, the higher her risk of breast cancer.

We are becoming an increasingly sedentary world and this study shows the potential outcome of such a lifestyle. As parents, we should be role models for our children and lead by example. Plan activities as a family. Hiking, bike riding and swimming are activities everyone can enjoy. Limit television, computer and video games to less than 1 hour per day. As for snacks, offer carrots, nuts and yogurt instead of chips, candy and soda.

It is important to note that weight was just one potential cause. Other factors to take into account are environment and genetics. Some household products and pesticides contain so-called endocrine disruptors, which are synthetic chemicals that, when absorbed by the body, can mimic or block hormones and disrupt normal functions such as growth and maturation. This has been shown to affect boys and their development, as well.

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August 2010
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