Trends of Age at Menarche and Association with Body Mass Index in Chinese School-Aged Girls, 1985-2010

Yi Song, Jun Ma, Haijun Wang, Zhiqiang Wang, Peijin Hu, Bin Zhang, Anette Agardh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To estimate the shifts in age at menarche from 1985 to 2010, compare the differences of average age at menarche between urban and rural groups, and determine the association of menarche with body mass index (BMI).

Study design: The data were obtained from 4 cross-sectional Chinese National Surveys on Students' Constitution and Health (1985, 1995, 2005, and 2010). In this representative sample of Chinese school-aged girls, the average age at menarche was determined using probit analysis and compared between urban and rural areas. Logistic regression was used to assess the association of BMI with the likelihood of having reached menarche.

Results: The age at menarche in Chinese girls dropped from 13.41 years to 12.47 years from 1985 to 2010. There was a significant difference in age at menarche between urban and rural girls over time, with urban girls having their menarche earlier than rural girls. Logistic regression showed that a higher BMI was strongly associated with an increased likelihood of having reached menarche, even after controlling for age, urban or rural residence, province, social economic status, and school.

Conclusion: The analysis suggests a drop of about 4.5 months per decade in the average age at menarche over the past 25 years, and a significant inverse association between BMI and having reached menarche. Considering that both early menarche and higher BMI are significant risk factors for chronic diseases, and may act together in later years to the detriment of a woman's health, greater attention should be paid to the health of girls with earlier menarche and higher BMI.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1172-1177
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


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