Rural-urban variations in age at menarche, adult height, leg length and abdominal adiposity in black south African women in transitioning South Africa

SOURCE: Annals of Human Biology
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): R.Said-Mohamed, A.Prioreschi, L.H.Nyati, ACVan Heerden, R.J.Munthali, K.Kahn, S.M.Tollman, F.X.Gomez-Olive, B.Houle, D.B.Dunger, S.A.Norris
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 10298
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/11897

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The pre-pubertal socioeconomic environment may be an important determinant of age at menarche, adult height, body proportions and adiposity: traits closely linked to adolescent and adult health. This study explored differences in age at menarche, adult height, relative leg-length and waist circumference between rural and urban black South African young adult women, who are at different stages of the nutrition and epidemiologic transitions. We compared 18???23 year-old black South African women, 482 urban-dwelling from Soweto and 509 from the rural Mpumalanga province. Age at menarche, obstetric history and household socio-demographic and economic information were recorded using interview-administered questionnaires. Height, sitting-height, hip and waist circumference were measured using standardised techniques. Urban and rural black South African women differed in their age at menarche (at ages 12.7 and 14.5 years, respectively). In urban women, a one-year increase in age at menarche was associated with a 0.65 cm and 0.16% increase in height and relative leg-length ratio, respectively. In both settings, earlier age at menarche and shorter relative leg-length were independently associated with an increase in waist circumference. In black South African women, the earlier onset of puberty, and consequently an earlier growth cessation process, may lead to central fat mass accumulation in adulthood.