UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pediatrics; Department of Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism | Pediatrics


Context: The hypothesis that obese children are overdiagnosed with growth hormone deficiency (GHD) has not been adequately investigated in the context of adiposity-related differences in auxology.

Aim: To investigate the differences in auxological parameters between short, prepubertal, obese children, and normal-weight peers who underwent growth hormone stimulation testing (GHST).

Hypothesis: Over-weight/obese children with GHD [peak growth hormone (GH) < 10 μg/L] will have higher values for growth velocity (GV) standard deviation score (SDS), bone age minus chronological age (BA − CA), and child height SDS minus mid-parental height (MPTH) SDS when compared to normal-weight GHD peers.

Subjects and Methods: A retrospective review of anthropometric and provocative GHST data of 67 prepubertal, GH-naïve children of age 10.21 ± 2.56 years (male n = 45, age 10.8 ± 2.60 years; female n = 22, age 8.94 ± 2.10). Inclusion criteria: GHST using arginine and clonidine. Exclusion criteria: hypopituitarism, abnormal pituitary magnetic resonance imaging scan, syndromic obesity, or syndromic short stature. Data were expressed as mean ± SD.

Results: The over-weight/obese children with peak GH of <10 μg/L had significantly lower value for natural log (ln) peak GH (1.45 ± 0.09 vs. 1.83 ± 0.35, p = 0.022), but similar values for GV SDS, insulin-like growth factor-I, insulin-like growth factor binding protein-3, bone age, BA − CA, MPTH, and child height SDS minus MPTH SDS compared to normal-weight peers with GHD. After adjusting for covariates, the over-weight/obese children (BMI ≥ 85th percentile) were >7 times more likely than normal-weight subjects (BMI < 85th percentile) to have a peak GH of <10 μg/L, and 23 times more likely to have a peak GH of <7 μg/L (OR = 23.3, p = 0.021). There was a significant inverse relationships between BMI SDS and the ln of peak GH (β = −0.40, r2 = 0.26, p = 0.001), but not for BMI SDS vs. GV SDS, ln peak GH vs. BA, or ln peak GH vs. GV SDS.

Conclusion: Subnormal peak GH levels in obese prepubertal children are not associated with unique pre-GHST auxological characteristics.


Growth hormone deficiency, obese children, growth hormone stimulation test, short stature, growth velocity, bone age, mid-parental target height

Rights and Permissions

Copyright 2014 Barrett, Maranda and Nwosu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

DOI of Published Version



Barrett J, Maranda L and Nwosu BU (2014) The relationship between subnormal peak-stimulated growth hormone levels and auxological characteristics in obese children. Front. Endocrinol. 5:35. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2014.00035. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Frontiers in Endocrinology