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Eur J Pediatr. 2006 Nov;165(11):787-93. Epub 2006 May 30.

Combined influence of early sexual maturation and central adiposity on subsequent stature. A four-year follow-up of 1,605 Norwegian boys and girls: the Young-HUNT study.

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  • 1HUNT Research Centre, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Verdal, Norway. grete.bratberg@ntnu.no



Shorter adult stature has been attributed to early sexual maturation, as well as early adiposity, but it is not clear if these factors are interrelated.


A number of 1,605 Norwegian adolescents were followed from early (baseline) to late adolescence (follow-up). Maturational timing was assessed by self-reports of pubertal status (pubertal development scale, PDS) in boys and age at menarche (AAM) in girls. Height, weight and waist circumference were measured at baseline and at follow-up. Differences in height at follow-up and height gain related to the timing of sexual maturation and the level of central adiposity (i.e. high or low waist circumference) at baseline were estimated using general linear modelling. At follow-up, the median height was 180 cm in boys and 167 cm in girls. Early maturing boys and girls with relatively high central adiposity at baseline were, on average, 5.7 cm (P value<0.001) and 3.6 cm (P value<0.001) taller than early maturing boys and girls with low central adiposity. Differences in stature related to central adiposity were less pronounced for intermediate and late maturing boys and girls. The height was lowest in boys (176.6 cm) and girls (163.8 cm) who had matured early and had low central adiposity at baseline. Height gain during follow-up was independent of the level of central adiposity, but was closely related to the timing of sexual maturation. The association between the early timing of sexual maturation and subsequent height was modified by the level of central adiposity in early adolescence.


The results suggest that early maturity combined with adiposity yields higher stature than early maturity and leanness.

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