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Pediatr Res. 2017 Mar;81(3):448-454. doi: 10.1038/pr.2016.253. Epub 2016 Nov 18.

Pubertal height gain is inversely related to peak BMI in childhood.

Author information

Göteborg Pediatric Growth Research Center (GP-GRC), Department of Pediatrics, Institute of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Department of Pediatrics, Halmstad Hospital, Halmstad, Sweden.
Muvara bv, Multivariate Analysis of Research Data, Leiderdorp, The Netherlands.
Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Section for Epidemiology and Social Medicine (EPSO), Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Department of Physiology/Endocrinology, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.



Childhood BMI may influence subsequent growth in height as well as the timing of puberty. The aim of the present study was to investigate associations between BMI in childhood and subsequent height gain/pubertal growth.


Longitudinal growth data were used (GrowUp1990Gothenburg cohort, n = 1,901). The QEPS growth-model was used to characterize height gain in relation to the highest BMISDS value between 3.5 and 8 y of age. Children were defined as overweight/obese (OwOb) or normal weight/underweight (NwUw), using the 2012 International Obesity Task Force criteria.


A negative association between childhood BMISDS and pubertal height gain was observed. Already at birth, OwOb children were heavier than NwUw children, and had a greater height velocity during childhood. Onset of puberty was 3.5/3.0 mo earlier in OwOb girls/boys, and they had 2.3/3.1 cm less pubertal height gain from the QEPS-models specific P-function than NwUw children. Adult height was not related to childhood BMI.


We found that pubertal height gain was inversely related to peak BMI in childhood. Higher childhood BMISDS was associated with more growth before onset of puberty, earlier puberty, and less pubertal height gain, resulting in similar adult heights for OwOb and NwUw children.

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