Earlier Onset of Puberty In Girls Linked to Obesity

Several studies have documented earlier onset of puberty in girls over the past few decades. In a longitudinal study following more than 1,200 girls for seven years, researchers found those with higher BMI had earlier onset of puberty, as measured by breast development, and that white girls are entering puberty at younger ages than previously reported. The study, “Onset of Breast Development in a Longitudinal Cohort,” in the December 2013 Pediatrics (published online Nov. 4), tracked girls in San Francisco, Cincinnati and New York City. The age at onset of breast development varied by race, BMI, and geographic location. In white, non-Hispanic girls, breast development began at a median age of 9.7 years, which is earlier than previously documented, according to the study authors. Black girls continue to experience breast development earlier than white girls, at a median age of 8.8 years, compared to 9.3 years for Hispanic girls and 9.7 years for Asian girls. However, BMI was a stronger predictor of puberty onset than race or ethnicity. Study authors conclude the earlier onset of puberty in white girls is likely due to greater obesity.

The Heavy Burden of Pregnancy

obese and pregnant

Dear Mr. Dad: Last week you talked about some pregnancy myths and you mentioned that expectant mothers should be more worried about putting on too little weight than too much. That makes sense, but isn’t there a limit to how much weight a woman should put on? Before she got pregnant, my wife worked out and we tried to eat a healthy diet. But over the past couple of months, she’s completely let herself go, putting on about 30 pounds—and we’re only halfway through the pregnancy. I’ve tried to gently tell her that she should watch her diet a bit more, but she insists that she’s “eating for two.” How can I get through to her?

A: A woman whose pre-pregnancy weight was in the “normal” range, needs to eat about 300 more calories per day than she did before. That translates into 25-35 pounds, which is the range recommended by most OBs. (Women who were underweight before pregnancy should put on a little more, those who were overweight should put on less.)

Since your wife will get weighed at every OB visit, her doctor will probably be chatting with her about her weight pretty soon. And given that it’s rarely safe for a man to talk to a woman about her weight, that’s a good thing. Still, at the pace she’s bulking up, she’s putting herself and, more importantly, her baby at risk. Unfortunately, she’ll need more encouragement to start cutting calories than her OB alone can provide, which puts you directly in the line of fire.
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The Long Road from Graveyard Shift to Cradle

sleep deprived

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife and I have been trying to have a baby for the past year. Both of us have been thoroughly checked out and neither of us has any physical conditions that could be causing problems. The doctor says it’s “unexplained infertility,” which isn’t helpful at all. My wife usually works late afternoons or night shifts (she’s a nurse) and is always tired. Could that be contributing to our difficulty conceiving?
A: “Unexplained infertility” has to be one of the most frustrating things a couple can hear. All it means is that even after spending thousands on diagnoses and fertility treatments, you’re not any closer to having a baby than you were before. But in your case, your wife’s work schedule may provide a clue.
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C-Section Babies May Have Health Problems Later

round head baby

Those of us who have a child who was born by Cesarean (C-section) have always taken pride in the fact that our babies’ heads are much rounder than those of babies born naturally. But those perfectly formed heads may come with a cost. Two new studies have found that C-section babies are more likely to be overweight as teens and to suffer from allergies than babies born vaginally. [Read more...]

Being Obese in Your 20s Can Cut Your Life Short–by a Lot

We all know that being obese increases your risk of developing all sorts of potentially deadly health conditions, including blood clots, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and more. Most people think that those risks might reduce your lifespan by a few years—apparently not enough to shock overweight and obese people into changing their behavior. But new [...]

More Screen Time Could Help Fight Obesity

video games can help reduce obesity

It seems that whenever people talk about obesity, the topic of kids’ screen time comes up. And while it’s certainly possible that there’s a connection between a child’s weight and how much time he or she spends watching TV and playing video games, some fascinating research is finding that technology—as long as it’s the right kind—might also help kids combat obesity and better manage their weight. If you’ve ever played one of the sports games on XBox/Kinect, you know just how sweaty video games can get you. Here are three examples of how this works:
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