Puberty Timing and Adiposity Change Across Childhood and Adolescence

Disentangling Cause and Consequence

Linda M. O'Keeffe; Monika Frysz; Joshua A. Bell; Laura D. Howe; Abigail Fraser


Hum Reprod. 2020;35(12):2784-2792. 

In This Article


Among females, earlier puberty timing is likely to be more of a result of adiposity gain in childhood than a cause of adiposity gain in adulthood. In males, differences in fat mass after puberty are driven partially by tracking of adiposity from early childhood but also by greater gains in post-pubertal adiposity in males earlier to puberty. Interventions aimed at reducing levels of childhood adiposity may help to prevent earlier puberty, adult adiposity and their adverse health outcomes in both females and males. In contrast, interventions aimed at prevention of early puberty without prevention of childhood adiposity would have little downstream benefits for prevention of adult adiposity and cardiovascular risk.