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Obesity and Weight Management

Obesity During Puberty

03/05/2010

Question:

I have been obese for a large portion of my life, but now am getting into shape. I am now 19, and went from being 240 lbs to 180 (still going). Currently, I am 5` 9", but I have really small hands, feet and penis. I started puberty late, but I also read that if you are obese during puberty it can prolong the process. Is this true? Do I have hope of growing taller/ getting larger feet, hands and penis?

Answer:

First of all, congratulations to you for dropping 60 lbs! That requires self-discipline and commitment. I admire you for it. 

The extra body weight associated with obesity usually makes puberty come at an earlier age for most people. So maturation is complete in early teens. Some, however, continue to grow for longer periods, right into late teens, due to genetic predisposition. If you have the mature hair development (facial, armpits, groin, legs), have a deepened voice, and have stopped growing taller (changing clothes and shoe sizes, etc.) recently, you probably have already completed puberty. If you really need to know, your physician can order a bone age -- a simple xray of the wrist -- at a hospital. The radiologist can determine whether your growth plates are fused, a sign that pubertal growth is over. 

Not matter what, keep up the great diet and exercise routine! 

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Response by:

Robert D Murray, MD Robert D Murray, MD
Clinical Professor of Health Behaviors & Health Promotion
Retired Professor of Human Nutrition
College of Education and Human Ecology
The Ohio State University