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PURPOSE: Early puberty is associated with adverse health outcomes. To identify potential modifiable factors for puberty timing, we examined the associations of prepubertal childhood macronutrient intakes with puberty timing in boys and girls. METHODS: In the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, macronutrient intakes at age 6 years were predicted using random intercepts linear regression models of dietary data at 3, 4, 7 (assessed by food frequency questionnaires) and 7.5 years (by 3-day food diaries). Timings of puberty onset (Tanner stage 2 genital or breast (B2) development) and puberty completion (voice breaking (VB) or menarche) were calculated from annual parental and child reports at 8-17 years. Age at peak height velocity (PHV) was derived from repeated height measurements at 5-20 years. Linear regression models were fit to estimate the associations of total energy (TEI) and macronutrient intakes (carbohydrate, fat, protein) with puberty timing traits, adjusting for maternal and infant characteristics. RESULTS: Among 3811 boys, higher TEI, but no macronutrient, was associated with earlier VB. Among 3919 girls, higher TEI was associated with earlier ages at B2, PHV, and menarche. Higher protein intake but not carbohydrate or fat intake (in energy partition models) and substitution of dietary protein for carbohydrate (in nutrient density and residual models) was associated with earlier B2, PHV, and menarche in girls. Findings were not attenuated on additional adjustment for body fat percentage during adolescence. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest habitual total energy intakes in children, and protein intakes in girls, as potential modifiable determinants of puberty timing.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Nutr

Publication Date





157 - 167


ALSPAC, Dietary intake, Prospective study, Protein, Puberty timing, Random intercepts model, Child, Eating, Female, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Male, Menarche, Puberty, United Kingdom