The Impact of Adiposity and Puberty on Thyroid Function in Children and Adolescents

Child Obes. 2019 Sep;15(6):411-415. doi: 10.1089/chi.2019.0025. Epub 2019 Jun 6.


Background: In the context of a worldwide increase in childhood obesity, euthyroid hyperthyrotropinemia has been consistently reported and raises questions about its etiology, its potential metabolic complications, and its management. In this study we analyze the thyroid function with respect to BMI, pubertal status, and sex in children with obesity and discuss our results on an integrative context with the existent data from the literature. Methods: In this case-control study, we compared 389 children and adolescents with obesity to 158 controls. Age, sex, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), BMI standard deviation score, and pubertal status were recorded. One factor-analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used with p < 0.05. Results: Mean serum TSH of children with obesity was higher (2.95 ± 1.2 mU/L) compared to normal weight group (2.42 ± 1.43 mU/L) (p < 0.0001). Only in females of both groups, serum TSH, T4, and T3 concentrations were all lower during puberty compared to prepuberty. In prepubertal girls and boys with obesity, a statistically significant correlation between TSH and BMI was found (r = 0.32, p = 0.012 and r = 0.47, p < 0.001, respectively), which is not sustained during puberty. Conclusions: Our results confirm the TSH elevation in children with obesity and indicates that puberty and adiposity have a differential sex-dependent impact on thyroid axis function.

Keywords: BMI; TSH; hyperthyrotropinemia; pediatric obesity.

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Pediatric Obesity* / physiopathology
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Thyroid Gland / physiology*
  • Thyrotropin / blood
  • Thyroxine / blood
  • Triiodothyronine / blood


  • Triiodothyronine
  • Thyrotropin
  • Thyroxine