Childhood obesity affects fertility


The dramatic increase of childhood obesity may have an impact that goes beyond this generation. Obesity may be disrupting the timing of puberty and lead to diminished fertility for an entire generation.

Evolutionary problem

“The issue of so many humans being obese is very recent in evolutionary terms, and since nutritional status is important to reproduction, metabolic syndromes caused by obesity may profoundly affect reproductive capacity,” explained Patrick Chappell, an assistant professor of veterinary medicine at Oregon State University and an author of the report. For thousands of years, starvation and scarcity were real threats to survival. Human bodies now have to adjust to an overabundance of food.

Puberty starting earlier for girls

Researchers are still trying to figure out all the ways childhood obesity impacts health. Effects on the liver, pancreas and other endocrine glands are known. While there have always been variations in the onset of puberty, trends are changing beyond the norm. Puberty, especially for girls, is starting earlier.

Key hormonal disruptions

This may disrupt kisspeptin, a neurohormone necessary for reproduction. Normal secretions may be disrupted by endocrine signals from fat. Disrupted circadian clocks which occurs with puberty may also affect hormone secretion. “Any disruption of circadian clocks throughout the body can cause a number of problems and major changes in diet and metabolism can affect these cellular clocks,” Chappell said.

Social delinquency as well as health concerns

Some studies show a relationship between early puberty and reproductive cancers, adult onset diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Depression and anxiety as well as delinquent behavior including smoking, sexual experimentation, drug use and early alcohol abuse has also been associated with early puberty. And these problems may go into adulthood rather than disappearing with the end of puberty.

Source: Oregon State University, MedicalNewsToday


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