Timing of Voice Breaking in Males Associated with Growth and Weight Gain Across the Life Course

Ken K Ong, David Bann, Andrew K Wills, Kate Ward, Rebecca Hardy, Diana Kuh, on behalf of the National Survey of Health and Development Scientific and Data Collection Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Background:In contrast to the many studies in females, there are few data in males on the relationships between childhood growth and weight gain and the timing of pubertal maturation and its relevance to adult body mass index (BMI) and body composition.Methods:A total of 2008 males in the 1946 British Birth Cohort Study had assessment of pubertal status including voice-breaking status (no change, starting, or complete) at age 14 yr. These responses were related to growth measurements at birth (weight only) and at 2, 4, 6, 7, 11, 14, 20, 26, 36, 43, 53, and 60-64 yr. Body composition was assessed by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry at 60-64 yr.Results:Males with more advanced voice-breaking status at age 14 yr had similar birth weights compared with other males; they showed faster weight gain from 0-2 yr and had higher mean weight and BMI at age 2 yr. Subsequently, they continued to accelerate in weight and BMI, and also in height, and maximum differences in body size were seen at age 14 yr. Adult height did not differ between groups, but males with advanced voice breaking had higher adult BMI and greater whole-body lean mass and greater android fat mass at 60-64 yr.Conclusion:Similar to females with earlier menarche, the trajectory to earlier sexual maturation in males is manifested by faster early postnatal growth and weight gain and leads to higher adult BMI. Timing of pubertal maturation has potential relevance to adult disease risks in males. We also describe conditional height difference in sd score as a proxy marker of pubertal timing in males.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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