Relation of childhood diet and body size to menarche and adolescent growth in girls

Catherine S. Berkey, Jane D. Gardner, A. Lindsay Frazier, Graham A. Colditz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


Adolescent growth and development may be affected by factors such as dietary intake and body size from much earlier in childhood. In a longitudinal study of 67 Caucasian girls in Boston, Massachusetts, data were collected prospectively from birth during the 1930s and 1940s. Heights and weights were measured semiannually, and dietary history interviews were conducted with mothers. Stepwise linear regression methods were used to seek factors which best predicted age at menarche, adolescent peak height growth velocity, and the age at which peak growth velocity occurred. Girls who consumed more (energy-adjusted) animal protein and less vegetable protein at ages 3-5 years had earlier menarche, and girls aged 1-2 years with higher dietary fat intakes and girls aged 6-8 years with higher animal protein intakes became adolescents with earlier peak growth. Controlling for body size, girls who consumed more calories and animal protein 2 years before peak growth had higher peak growth velocity. These findings may have implications regarding adult diseases whose risks are associated with adolescent growth and development factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-452
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2000


  • Adolescence
  • Body mass index
  • Child nutrition
  • Diet
  • Growth
  • Menarche


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