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Childhood BMI is inversely associated with pubertal timing in normal-weight but not overweight boys.

Journal article
Authors Maria Bygdell
Jenny Kindblom
Jimmy Célind
Maria Nethander
Claes Ohlsson
Published in The American journal of clinical nutrition
Volume 108
Issue 6
Pages 1259-1263
ISSN 1938-3207
Publication year 2018
Published at Core Facilities, Bioinformatics
Centre for Bone and Arthritis Research
Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Pages 1259-1263
Language en
Subject categories Endocrinology


An inverse association between childhood body mass index (BMI; in kg/m2) and pubertal timing is well established for girls. Among boys, studies are scarce and the results inconclusive.We aimed to determine the association between childhood BMI and age at peak height velocity (PHV) in boys.We collected height and weight measurements between 6.5 and 22 y of age for boys born 1945-1961 (original cohort; n = 31,971; mean ± SD childhood BMI: 15.74 ± 1.41; age at PHV: 14.06 ± 1.11 y) and 1981-1996 (replication cohort; n = 1465; childhood BMI: 16.47 ± 2.06; age at PHV: 13.71 ± 1.08 y) attending schools in Gothenburg, Sweden, and examined at mandatory military conscription. Age at PHV was obtained from curve-fitting of measured heights with the use of a modified Infancy-Childhood-Puberty model.In the original cohort, childhood BMI was inversely associated with age at PHV (P < 0.001) and a significant quadratic term for childhood BMI (P < 0.001) indicated the nonlinearity of this association. Via piecewise linear regression, we identified a threshold for the association at a childhood BMI of 18.42. A significant inverse association was observed below (β: -0.17 y/BMI unit; 95% CI: -0.18, -0.16 y/BMI unit) but not above (β: 0.02 y/BMI unit; 95% CI: -0.03, 0.06 y/BMI unit) this childhood BMI threshold. For every unit increase in childhood BMI, age at PHV was ∼2 mo earlier up to the childhood BMI threshold. Similar results were observed in the replication cohort, demonstrating a significant inverse association below (β: -0.16; 95% CI: -0.21, -0.11) but not above (β: -0.03; 95% CI: -0.11, 0.05) the childhood BMI threshold. The identified threshold was close to the cutoffs for overweight at 8 y of age, and childhood BMI was inversely associated with age at PHV below but not above the overweight cutoffs.The present findings establish an inverse association between childhood BMI and pubertal timing in normal-weight but not overweight boys.

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