Studies of the relationship of weight status with timing of puberty in boys have been mixed. This study examined whether overweight and obesity are associated with differences in the timing of puberty in US boys.
We reanalyzed recent community-based pubertal data from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Pediatric Research in Office Settings study in which trained clinicians assessed boys 6 to 16 years for height, weight, Tanner stages, testicular volume (TV), and other pubertal variables. We classified children based on BMI as normal weight, overweight, or obese and compared median age at a given Tanner stage or greater by weight class using probit and ordinal probit models and a Bayesian approach.
Half of boys (49.9%, n = 1931) were white, 25.8% (n = 1000) were African American, and 24.3% (n = 941) were Hispanic. For genital development in white and African American boys across a variety of Tanner stages, we found earlier puberty in overweight compared with normal weight boys, and later puberty in obese compared with overweight, but no significant differences for Hispanics. For TV (≥3 mL or ≥4 mL), our findings support earlier puberty for overweight compared with normal weight white boys.
In a large, racially diverse, community-based sample of US boys, we found evidence of earlier puberty for overweight compared with normal or obese, and later puberty for obese boys compared with normal and overweight boys. Additional studies are needed to understand the possible relationships among race/ethnicity, gender, BMI, and the timing of pubertal development.