Obesity in young boys can cause delays in mental and physical growth and development, which is quite the opposite of their female counterparts. These setbacks can lead to low self-esteem issues and make matters worse for severely overweight males, since obese children are often the subject of ridicule among their peers. According to a study recently published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, obese boys are 50 percent less likely to enter puberty by age 11½ than boys who are of normal weight. These findings directly contradict the outcome of previous studies involving young girls that have shown obese girls to be much more likely to enter puberty earlier than girls of normal weight.
The study was led by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System. Pediatric endocrinologist Joyce M. Lee, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues, followed 401 boys born in 1991 who had diverse socioeconomic backgrounds and came from 10 different regions of the U.S. The height and weight of the boys were measured beginning at age 2 and continuing through age 12. Tanner genitalia staging was used to measure puberty. According to this scale, boys in stage one lacked genital development by the age of 11.5 years and were considered to have a late onset of puberty. Results of the analysis revealed that 14 percent of obese boys had a later onset of puberty, as did 13.3 percent of boys who were considered overweight. This was in comparison to just 7 percent of boys of normal weight who experienced a late onset of puberty.