• Fatness;
  • Skinfolds;
  • Skeletal age;
  • Adolescence;
  • Growth


Relationships between fatness and skeletal maturity are considered in a nationwide sample of 14,259 Belgian boys 12 through 17 years of age (The Leuven Growth Study of Belgian Boys). Absolute fatness was estimated from four skinfolds using the Drinkwater and Ross technique and from the sum of four skinfolds, and was related to skeletal maturity assessed by the Tanner-Whitehouse method (I and II). In addition, comparisons were made between the fattest 5% and leanest 5% of the boys at each age level. Correlations between the indices of fatness and skeletal age and relative skeletal age (the difference between skeletal and chronological ages) are positive and generally low, ranging from 0.12 to 0.39. They tend to decrease with age from 12 to 17 years. Comparisons between the extreme groups indicate that the leanest boys are more delayed in skeletal maturity, by about 0.8 years, than the fattest boys are advanced, by about 0.5 years. Stature data for the same boys are consistent with the skeletal maturity data and thus suggest that the size differences between the extreme groups are due in part to maturity differences. Over the age span 12 through 20 years, the leanest boys are reduced in stature by about – 1.2 standard deviations, while the fattest boys are larger in stature by about +0.6 standard deviation units. The size differences, however, persist after skeletal maturity is attained so that there may be a specific role for fatness in influencing statural growth.