PURPOSE OF REVIEW: To describe available markers of male puberty, discuss associations between adiposity and pubertal timing and to review recent evidence of a possible secular trend in male pubertal timing. RECENT FINDINGS: An expert panel reviewing existing American pubertal data from boys in 2005 could not confirm a secular trend in male pubertal timing. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III findings have been confirmed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development study reporting a mean age of 10.4 years for Caucasian boys entering Tanner stage G2. Furthermore, the Copenhagen Puberty Study reported a 3 months decline in pubertal onset during a 15-year period (from 11.92 years in 1991 to 11.66 years in 2008).A negative association between obesity and early puberty was found in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development study, in contrast to the positive association found in a Danish study. Other studies have not been able to document an association between prepubertal BMI and age at pubertal onset. SUMMARY: Evaluation of Tanner stage and especially assessment of testicular volume should both be used in epidemiological studies. We speculate that the association between fat mass and pubertal timing may be nonlinear and recent studies may indicate a small decline in age at pubertal onset in boys.
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