A recent report from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism asserts that girls who are obese at the time of puberty are at increased risk for higher-than-normal levels of a steroid hormone. Hyperandrogenemia is the result of high levels of testosterone or androsterone, both of which control masculine characteristics. The condition also is associated with polycystic ovary syndrome, which includes infertility, obesity, abnormal menstruation, and hirsutism. Researchers evaluated weight, hormone levels, and stage of puberty for 76 girls aged 7 to 17 years, 41 of whom were obese. Among the obese girls, the testosterone levels were 2.1 times higher, and the sex hormone-binding globulin was 50% lower than in normal-weight girls. The rates remained similar even after girls with irregular periods and hirsutism were excluded from the study.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.