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Body Mass Index and its Association with Linear Growth and Pubertal Development

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
DateAccepted/In press - 18 Jun 2019


The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship of body mass index (BMI) with subsequent statural growth among children born in the era of the obesity epidemic.

Among 18,271 children from Belarus (n=16,781, born 1996-1997) and USA (n=1,490, born 1999-2002), we used multivariable linear and ordinal logistic regression to analyze associations of BMI z-score from infancy to adolescence with subsequent standardized length/height velocity, standing height and its components (trunk and leg lengths), and pubertal timing.

The prevalence of early adolescent obesity was 6.2% in Belarus and 12.8% in USA. In both Belarussian and USA children, higher BMI z-scores in infancy and childhood were
associated with faster length/height velocity in early life, while higher BMI z-scores during midchildhood were associated with slower length/height velocity during adolescence. We observed associations with greater standing height, trunk length and earlier pubertal development in adolescence that were stronger for BMI z-scores at mid-childhood than BMI z-scores at birth or infancy.

Our findings in both Belarus and USA support the role of higher BMI in accelerating linear growth in early life (taller stature and longer trunk length), but earlier pubertal
development and slower linear growth during adolescence.

    Structured keywords

  • Bristol Population Health Science Institute

    Research areas

  • birth cohort, pubertal development, linear growth, body mass index



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