Girls Who Mature Faster Are Less Active and Have a Lower Quality of Life, Study Reports
Maturation happens to people at different moments of their lives. Generally speaking, girls tend to mature a lot faster than boys. However, even among girls, when maturation starts varies a lot depending on genetics. Even though maturation is an essential part in a girl's life, a new series of studies suggest that maturing too fast could actually be detrimental. According to the researchers, girls who mature too early tend to be less active and are more likely to state that they have a poorer quality of life.
"The decline in physical activity across adolescence is well established but influence of biological maturity on this process has been largely overlooked," the lead investigator of these studies, Dr. Sean Cumming from the Department for Health said. "There is good reason to believe that variation in biological maturation contributes to health outcomes in adolescences, especially at the extreme ends of the maturity continuum."
The time of maturation, in which a girl first starts her menstrual cycle, is greatly controlled by genetic factors. Girls who mature faster tend to experience a greater height boost, larger weight gain and more fat mass than girls who mature at a later time. In this study, the researchers reviewed the data of 500 female students who were between the ages of 11 and 14. The researchers recorded the participants' biological maturity and then measured the participants' quality of life by using the KIDSCREEN-10 index. This index measures life quality using 10 dimensions, which are physical well-being, psychological well-being, mood/emotions, self-perception, autonomy, family relationships, peer relationships, school environment, bullying and finances.
The researchers discovered that girls who matured faster were associated with increase distress and depression. These girls were more likely to become involved in drinking, smoking and taking or abusing drugs down the line. Since delaying maturation is not an option, researchers believe that educating these young girls about their bodies would be vital in preventing them from living a sedentary lifestyle.
"Early maturing girls perceive themselves as being less attractive, sporty, and physically fit. If early maturing girls can be encouraged to view puberty as a normal and attractive part of maturational process, and not a barrier to physical activity, then they may be more likely to remain active and healthy throughout adolescence," Cumming said according to Medical Xpress.
The research was funded by the British Academy.