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Weight Gain and Onset of Puberty - Signs and Significance

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Weight gain is a normal and healthy phenomenon in girls during puberty. The article below explains why weight gain occurs at the onset of puberty.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Basuki Nath Bhagat

Published At October 31, 2022
Reviewed AtOctober 31, 2022

Introduction:

Puberty is an integral part of life, in which changes occur in the bodies of boys and girls. These include physical and sexual changes in the body, transforming kids into adults. The pubertal age lasts for about two to four years. In boys, it starts at nine years and lasts till 15 years, whereas in girls, it lasts from eight to 13 years. As all kids are different, they may experience pubertal changes at different times during these years. A growth spurt, a sudden and fast growth that occurs in a short period, occurs in puberty. Many physical and sexual changes happen in a short period, which may be difficult for the kids to cope with. Parental guidance and support are necessary during this fragile time for kids.

What Are the Signs That Occur During Puberty?

The various changes during puberty are different in boys and girls, though a few may be familiar in both.

Common signs include:

  • Pubic and underarm hair.

  • Increase in height and weight.

  • Adult body odor.

  • Acne or pimples.

Signs of puberty in girls:

  • Growth of breasts.

  • First menstrual cycle or menarche.

Signs of puberty in boys:

  • Voice changes.

  • Deepening of voice.

  • Enlargement of penis and testicles.

  • The appearance of facial hair.

Why Do Girls Gain Weight During Puberty?

Weight gain is a common occurrence in boys and girls during puberty. These changes occur commonly in girls as they transition from puberty into adulthood, preparing them for pregnancy in the future. Weight gain occurs commonly due to changes in the amount of fat tissue, muscles, and bones.

What Is the Significance of Weight Gain in Puberty?

The growth spurt that occurs during puberty is the last one, and by the end, kids attain significant changes that would be there in adulthood. The first growth spurt occurs during the first two years of life. During puberty, the brain instructs the ovaries (female reproductive organs in the abdomen) to release a hormone called estrogen and the testicles (male reproductive organs) to release testosterone. These hormones cause changes in the size and shape of the body and cause overall growth. Weight gain promotes the development of more fat, thereby leading to development of fuller thighs, stomach, and breasts, which make the body ready for pregnancy in future.

What Are the Changes That Occur in the Body During Puberty?

The following changes occur in the body during puberty, that includes:

  • A weight gain of around 15 pounds is considered normal during puberty in girls and is deemed pivotal for normal growth and development. As girls grow, there is an increase in fat that helps them develop breasts and stomach tissue, wider hips, and fuller thighs. By the end of puberty, lean body mass decreases, and the amount of fat in the body increases, whereas in boys, the muscle mass increases as they reach the completion of puberty.

  • Changes in body shape and size start appearing in puberty. For example, boys will develop broader shoulders and increased body musculature. They may also notice a small amount of breast tissue growth that usually disappears by the end of puberty. Also, they may have deepened voices and an increase in the size of their reproductive organs (penis and testes).

  • The bodies of girls become curvier. The first sign of puberty can be breast development which starts as a minor swelling under the nipples. Girls get their first menstrual period about two to three years after the start of breast development. Also, one breast may grow faster than the other; however, both breasts reach the same size by the end of puberty. Girls may feel uncomfortable and shy due to the sudden changes occurring in their bodies. However, they should not resort to unhealthy or insufficient dietary habits to lower their growing weight.

What Are the Growth Changes in Boys and Girls of Pubertal Age?

Apart from weight changes, teens also show a considerable increase in height during puberty. For example, girls show a rise of 3.5 inches in height, whereas boys show a rise of 4.1 inches. Girls grow through puberty and attain adult height by around 14 to 15 years, depending on their puberty. However, boys reach an adult height around 16 years of age, and the muscle growth continues even after that.

What Are the Psychological Changes That Can Occur During Puberty?

Apart from weight gain and physical changes in the body, kids may also experience some behavioral changes like developing a feeling of anger or restlessness and loss of patience. These changes occur as the brain is also trying to cope with the changes occurring in the body.

What Are the Precautions to Be Taken During Weight Gain in Puberty?

Weight gain is a common occurrence in puberty. However, girls may sometimes feel insecure when they experience body changes earlier than their peers, affecting their self-esteem in the early years and harming their mindset. Parents and teachers need to understand the fears they face and guide them through the journey of puberty. Also, some girls might not be able to cope with unexpected body changes and weight gain and try to overcome it by reducing their diet intake, which is not recommended.

Healthy eating is to be encouraged in girls undergoing puberty. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts, fish, and lean meats is helpful. Also, limiting the intake of fast foods or junk foods like pastries, cookies, candies, and chips is necessary to prevent extra weight gain that can lead to obesity later in life. In addition, girls of pubertal age can be encouraged to participate in sports and other kinds of physical activities that help maintain self-confidence and cope with the changing body image.

Conclusion:

Parents are an essential pillar of support for girls and boys going through puberty. They must explain to daughters about the healthy weight gain they are experiencing and how it is a necessary part of development. However, girls who are gaining excessive weight during puberty need to consult a doctor who can better understand the problem and suggest an appropriate weight loss regime. Also, rapid weight loss diets should not be encouraged as they can impact growth and sexual development.

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Dr. Basuki Nath Bhagat
Dr. Basuki Nath Bhagat

Family Physician

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pubertyweight gain
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