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Obesity 'causes early onset of puberty'

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Increasing rates of childhood obesity is contributing to an earlier onset of puberty, a US study has found.

Increasing rates of childhood obesity is contributing to an earlier onset of puberty, a US study has found.

Researchers revealed that a higher body mass index (BMI) in girls at age three, and large increases between three and starting school are associated with earlier puberty -defined as breast development by age nine. Previous studies have shown that earlier onset of puberty can lead to higher rates of behavioural problems and psychosocial stress.

The scientists say this is first study that included girls younger than five.

The study looked at national data on 354 girls from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds in 10 US states.

Paediatrics (2007) 119; 3

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