Obesity 'Leads to Early Sexual Maturity'

      November 25, 2009 07:22

      More children reach sexual maturity early. According to Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service data analyzed by a research team led by Prof. Park Mi-jung at Inje University Sanggye Paik Hospital, the number of such children aged between five and 13 increased 7.6 times from 2004 to 2008.

      The chief reason is the rise in obesity. Obesity leads to excessive secretion of leptin in the body, which induces the emergence of secondary sexual characteristics.

      This is felt especially among girls as it stimulates secretion of an enzyme called aromatase, which turns male hormones into female hormones. Park said sexual precocity is experienced by more girls than boys.

      The way to prevent sexual precocity is to manage children's weight from early age. There is a widespread misconception that eggs and bean sprouts contain growth hormone releasers and therefore make girls have their first period early, but this is untrue.

      Growth-promoting hormones in food do not bear any relation to the secretion of sexual hormones.

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