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Childhood obesity is a growing and alarming problem, associated with several short-term and long-term metabolic and cardiovascular complications. In addition, it has also been suggested that excess adiposity during childhood influences growth and pubertal development. Several studies have shown that during pre-pubertal years, obese patients present higher growth velocity and that this pre-pubertal advantage tends to gradually decrease during puberty, leading to similar final heights between obese and non-obese children. Excess body weight might also influence pubertal onset, leading to earlier timing of puberty in girls. In addition, obese girls are at increased risk of hyperandrogenism and polycystic ovary syndrome. In boys, a clear evidence does not exist: some studies suggesting an earlier puberty associated with the obesity status, whereas other have found a delayed pubertal onset. Overall, the existing evidence of an association between obesity and modification of growth and pubertal patterns underlines a further reason for fighting the epidemics of childhood obesity.
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