Objective. To document postmenarcheal growth and changes in weight and fatness in girls.

Design. Mixed longitudinal study to determine yearly growth increments.

Participants. Six hundred sixty-eight postmenarcheal girls, initially ages 13 to 17 years, from two Philadelphia high schools. Overall, 61.4% of the girls were white, 15.7% black, 16.8% Puerto Rican Hispanic, and 6.1% of other ethnicities (non-Puerto Rican Hispanic or Asian).

Outcome Measures. Height (in centimeters), weight (in kilograms), and triceps and subscapular skinfold thicknesses (in millimeters) were measured initially and after 1 year. The anthropometric measures were analyzed both cross-sectionally by age cohort and longitudinally.

Results. Viewed cross-sectionally by chronologic age groups and adjusted for ethnicity, gynecologic age, cigarette smoking, and late maturation (menarche ≥14 years), there were no statistically significant trends with age in height, weight, body mass index (kilograms per m2), triceps, or subscapular skinfold thicknesses. Nevertheless, there were significant trends in velocity with increasing chronologic age. On the average, postmenarcheal girls gained about 6.5 kg (14.3 lb) during late adolescence from about 1.5 years after menarche to age 18 years. Height and triceps skinfolds showed significantly decreasing velocities, whereas there was a significant monotonic increase in velocity with age for skinfolds at the subscapular site.

Conclusions. Even with normal weight gain during late adolescence in girls, there seems to be greater potential for fat deposition centrally. Thus, excessive weight gain during late adolescence may exacerbate the normal processes of fat deposition, leading to large gains in central fat, and thereby increasing the long-term risk for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases later in life.

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