Journal of Public Health

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 215–222 | Cite as

Relevance of age-related growth references: variations in body measurements among girls in relation to their menarche status

  • Anne-Madeleine BauEmail author
  • Angelika Schaffrath Rosario
  • Susanna Wiegand
  • Peter Martus
  • Liane Schenk
Original Article



The objective of this study is to fill the information gap by providing detailed information on the development of girls’ BMI and hip and waist circumferences in correlation with their menarche status and to examine the impact of considering menarcheal age in addition to numerical age in the assessment of overweight and abdominal overweight.

Subjects and methods

The description of data is based on two recently conducted cross-sectional surveys: the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS, n = 1,942) and the Berlin School Children’s Cohort (BSCOC, n = 1,606). Anthropometric data are presented stratified by age in years (11–14) and menarche status. The frequency distribution of overweight and abdominal overweight was calculated according to German reference data. Group comparisons were performed with non-parametric tests.


Changes regarding body composition occur mainly during pre-menarche and menarche. In girls in whom menarche had occurred more than 6 months ago, waist circumference and, to a lesser extent, BMI attained stable values, while the values for hip circumference were higher in post-menarche girls. The frequency distribution of overweight and abdominal overweight among post-menarche girls shows that they are more than twice as likely to be overweight and/or abdominally overweight as pre-menarche girls within the same age group.


The frequency distribution of overweight and abdominal overweight among girls in a similar age group but with a different menarche status demonstrates that misclassification of girls can arise when only age is taken into account. The progress of maturation is an important factor in assessing the growth and health of adolescents.


BMI Waist circumference Hip circumference Menarche Adolescent girls 



The authors would like to express their highest gratitude to the participating girls and their parents, teachers and schools. Special thanks go to all the partners who were helpful in their critical discussions, especially Dr. Heidrun Kahl (Robert Koch Institute, retired). The BSCOC study (Berlin School Children’s Cohort) was funded by the EU FP 6 Network of Excellence “Environmental and endogenous factors influencing puberty onset. Programming effects of early nutrition on long-term health” 2005–2008 reference no. 513991 (PIONEER - Puberty onset - influence of environmental and endogenous regulators). We would like to thank Prof. Dr. Heiko Krude, team leader of the research project, for granting us access to the data set. The KiGGS study was financed by the German Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and Research, and the Robert Koch Institute.

Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest that could be perceived as prejudicing the impartiality of the research reported.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne-Madeleine Bau
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Angelika Schaffrath Rosario
    • 2
  • Susanna Wiegand
    • 1
  • Peter Martus
    • 3
  • Liane Schenk
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for Experimental Pediatric EndocrinologyCharité University Medicine BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Robert Koch-InstituteBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Institute for Biostatistic und Clinical EpidemiologyCharité University Medicine BerlinBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Institute for Medicine SociologyCharité University Medicine BerlinBerlinGermany
  5. 5.Charite-University-Medicine BerlinBerlinGermany

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