Links between Weight, Age at Menarche and Height in a Cohort of American Women

Molly Crimmins Easterlin, Cornell University

Three fairly new, and potentially related, trends exist in the U.S. today: relative decline in height, increasing weight, and decreasing age at menarche. This paper examines the links between weight, age at menarche, and height using regression analysis and data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Determinants of female height after age 20 include age at menarche, BMI, SES, diet, exercise, and ethnicity. Heavier BMI is related to earlier age at menarche, and earlier age at menarche, in turn, is related to shorter final height at age 20. We examine whether the trends in relative decline in height can be explained by decreasing age at maturational timing, instigated by increasing weight, using the coefficients resulting from these equations with indicators of change over time in BMI and age at menarche, to determine the potential role of each variable in determining trends in height in young adulthood.

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Presented in Poster Session 6