The list of effects that obesity has on a person’s physical and mental well-bring continues to get longer and longer. These issues are much more serious for children. Researchers have recently discovered yet another reason why obesity is especially troubling for girls: it could send them into puberty earlier.
Dr. Frank Biro – a pediatrics professor at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center – and his team followed more than 1,200 girls between the ages of 6 and 8 in three metro areas (San Francisco, Cincinnati and New York) between 2004-2011. They made sure to diligently document the girls’ BMIs along with their path through puberty. The girls with the highest BMIs tended to begin developing breasts at age 8.5 as opposed to age 10 for the girls in the bottom half of BMIs.
While researchers maintain that being heavier isn’t the cause of early puberty, they are beginning to name it as a factor. The reasoning could be that the body senses the extra weight as energy sources ample enough to carry the changes puberty brings. The study strictly measured growth of breast buds as opposed to following the onset of menstruation.
Why is this important in the Latino community? Right now, 1 in 5 Latino children is overweight and that number continues to rise. On average, Hispanic girls go through puberty earlier than white non-Hispanic and Asian girls. Girls who go through puberty earlier tend to have lower self esteem, depression, earlier sexual activity and a higher likelihood of being negatively influenced by peer pressure. While helping children maintain a healthy weight is important, parents should avoid obsessing with their child too.