Childhood Obesity Widens Gender Gap

I have previously blogged about how obesity accelerates pubertal development in young girls, with all of the complex psychosocial sequelae that can make life for these girls quite difficult.

Interestingly, as now described in a paper by Joyce Lee and colleagues published in the latest issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, exactly the opposite is seen in boys, where excess weight is associated with delayed pubertal development.

Thus, in the longitudinal prospective National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development, boys in the highest BMI trajectory had 2.6-fold greater risk of being prepubertal at age 11.5 than boys in the lowest BMI trajectory.

This means that as a consequence of the childhood obesity epidemic, the already apparent fact that boys tend to “grow up” much later than girls, is further amplified.

As a father of three adult daughters, I can well recall how years ago my teenage girls simply could never understand how their male classmates could only be so “childish” and refuse to grow up. Thanks to the childhood obesity epidemic, that gender gap is now widening even more.

I’d certainly love to hear from parents on how this issue appears to be affecting our kids today.

Edmonton, Alberta