Putative effects of obesity on linear growth and puberty

Shlomit Shalitin*, Wieland Kiess

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Childhood obesity is a major public health problem that has grown to epidemic proportions throughout the world. Obesity is influenced by genetic and environmental factors. The nutritional status plays an important role in growth and body weight regulation. Excess adiposity during childhood can affect the process of growth and puberty. Obese children are frequently tall for their age, with accelerated epiphyseal growth plate maturation despite low growth hormone levels. Several regulatory hormones may affect the process of linear growth in the constellation of obesity, as high levels of insulin and leptin are observed in obese children. Leptin can act as a skeletal growth factor, with a direct effect on skeletal growth centers. The finding that overweight children, especially girls, tend to mature earlier than lean children has led to the hypothesis that the degree of body fatness may trigger the neuroendocrine events that lead to the onset of puberty. Leptin receptors have been identified in the hypothalamus, as well as in gonadotrope cells, ovarian follicular cells, and Leydig cells. The increased leptin and androgen levels seen in obese children may be implicated in their earlier onset of puberty and accelerated pubertal growth. This review is focused on the interaction between childhood obesity and growth and pubertal processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-110
Number of pages10
JournalHormone Research in Paediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Growth
  • Obesity
  • Puberty


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