Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Growth and development in simple obesity


It is well known that fat children tend to be taller than their peers and to present a slight acceleration of skeletal and pubertal maturation. To verify this tendency and to examine some of the points that are still controversial, auxological data were studied concerning 303 subjects (141 males and 162 females, aged 6–16 years) affected by simple obesity. Subjects were seen to be taller than average by about 1 SD from 6 to 9 years of age, becoming close to or shorter than average at later ages. Height below the 10th percentile was common in 17% of males and 8% of females, due to hereditary shortness, growth delay or late puberty. Girls had early puberty and menarche; the rate of sexual maturation was variable in boys.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.



simple obesity


body mass index


Greulich and Pyle method


Tanner and Whitehouse method for skeletal age assessment (radius, ulna and short bones score)


growth evaluation computerized system


genital development


breast development


pubic hair development




standard deviation scores


  1. 1.

    Aicardi G, de Toni E, Di Battista E, Vignolo M, Naselli A (1985) Eventi morfo-biologici della puberta'. Riv It Ped (IJP) 11:222–230

  2. 2.

    Alcazar ML, Alvear J, Muzzo S (1984) Influence of nutrition on the bone development in children. Arch Latinoam Nutr 34:298–307

  3. 3.

    Bernfeld J, Dehan O (1976) Croissance et développement de l'enfant obése. Etude longitudinale. Rev Fr Endocrinol Clin 17:141–164

  4. 4.

    Bruch H (1941) Obesity in relation to puberty. J Pediatr 19:365–375

  5. 5.

    Cacciari E, Cicognani A, Pirazzoli P, Zappulla F, Tassono P, Bernardi F, Salardi S, Mazzanti L (1977) Effect of obesity on the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal function in childhood. Acta Paediatr Scand 66:345–349

  6. 6.

    Court JM (1977) Obesity in childhood. Med J Aust 1:888–891

  7. 7.

    Doyard PA (1981) Obésité. In: Job JC, Pierson H (eds) Endocrinologie pèdiatrique et croissance, 2nd edn. Flammarion, Paris, pp 479–510

  8. 8.

    Forbes GB (1977) Nutrition and growth. J Pediatr 91:40–42

  9. 9.

    Frisch RE (1985) Fatness, menarche, and female fertility. Perspect Biol Med 28:611–633

  10. 10.

    Garn SM, Haskell JA (1960) Fat thickness and developmental status in childhood and adolescence. Am J Dis Child 99:746–751

  11. 11.

    Garn S, Clark DC (1975) Nutrition, growth, development and maturation: findings from the ten-state nutrition survey of 1968–1970. Pediatrics 56:306–319

  12. 12.

    Garn SM, La Velle M, Pilkington J (1983) Comparison of fatness in premenarcheal and postmenarcheal girls of the same age. J Pediatr 103:328–331

  13. 13.

    Greulich WW, Pyle SI (1959) Radiographic atlas of skeletal development of the hand and wrist, 2nd edn. Stanford University Press, Stanford

  14. 14.

    Hammar SL, Campbell MM, Campbell VA, Moores NL, Sareen C, Gareis FJ, Lucas B (1972) An interdisciplinary study of adolescent obesity. J Pediatr 80:373–383

  15. 15.

    Heald FP, Hollander RJ (1965) The relationship between obesity in adolescence and early growth. J Pediatr 67:35–38

  16. 16.

    Johnston FE, Roche AF, Schell LM, Wettenhall NB (1975) Critical weight at menarche. Am J Dis Child 129:19–23

  17. 17.

    Laron Z, Ben-Dan I, Shrem M, Dickerman Z, Lilos P (1978) Puberty in simple obese boys and girls. In: Cacciari E, Laron Z, Raiti S (eds) Obesity in childhood. Academic Press, London, pp 29–40

  18. 18.

    Nicoletti I, Bruni V, Rolla M (1984) La diagnosi auxologica di 1^ e 2^ livello per la prevenzione e la clinica nelle alterazioni della crescita. Acta Med Auxol 16:3–31

  19. 19.

    Rolland-Cachera MF, Sempè M, Guilloud-Bataille M, Patois E, Pèquignot-Guggenbuhl F, Fautrad V (1982) Adiposity indices in children. Am J Clin Nutr 36:178–184

  20. 20.

    Tanner JM, Whitehouse RH (1975) Revised standards for triceps and subscapular skinfolds in British children. Arch Dis Child 50:142–145

  21. 21.

    Tanner JM, Whitehouse RH (1976) Clinical longitudinal standards for height, weight, height velocity, weight velocity and the stages of puberty. Arch Dis Child 51:170–179

  22. 22.

    Tanner JM, Whitehouse RH, Marshall WA, Healy MJR, Goldstein H (1975) Assessment of skeletal maturity and prediction of adult height (TW2 method). Academic Press, London

  23. 23.

    Wojdon-Machal H (1980) Evaluation of skeletal age in obese children. Pediatr Pol 3:315–322

  24. 24.

    Wolff OH (1955) Obesity in childhood: a study of birth weight, the height and onset of puberty. Q J Med 24:109–118

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to M. Vignolo.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Vignolo, M., Naselli, A., Di Battista, E. et al. Growth and development in simple obesity. Eur J Pediatr 147, 242–244 (1988).

Download citation

Key words

  • Simple obesity
  • Height
  • Bone development
  • Sexual maturation