Open Access Research article

Age at menarche and its relationship to body mass index among adolescent girls in Kuwait

Nora Al-Awadhi, Nouf Al-Kandari, Teebah Al-Hasan, Daliah AlMurjan, Salhah Ali and Abdullah Al-Taiar*

Author affiliations

Dept. Community Medicine and Behavioural Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, Box: 24923, Safat, 13110, Kuwait

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Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:29  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-29

Published: 12 January 2013



Despite the increasing rates of childhood obesity and rapid change in socio-economic status, the mean age at menarche remains mostly unknown among contemporary girls in Kuwait and other countries in the Gulf region. This study aimed to estimate the mean age at menarche among schoolgirls in Kuwait and investigate the association between age at menarche and obesity.


A cross-sectional study was conducted on 1,273 randomly selected female high school students from all governorates in Kuwait. Overweight was defined as higher than or equal to the 85th percentile and obesity as higher than or equal to the 95th percentile using growth charts provided by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2000). Data on menarche, socio-demographic status, physical activity and diet were collected using confidential self-administered questionnaire.


Out of 1,273 students, 23 (1.8%) were absent or refused to participate. The mean age at menarche was 12.41 years (95% CI: 12.35-12.48). The prevalence of early menarche, defined as less than 11 years of age, was 8.5% (95% CI: 7.0-10.2%). The prevalence of obesity and overweight was 18.3% (95% CI: 16.2-20.6%) and 25.8% (95% CI: 23.42-28.30%), respectively. Age at menarche was inversely and significantly associated with odds of overweight and obesity after adjusting for potential confounders, odds ratio 0.84 (0.77-0.93); (pā€‰=ā€‰0.001).


Age at menarche among contemporary girls in Kuwait is similar to that in industrialized countries. There is an inverse association between age at menarche and obesity or overweight. Trends in menarcheal age should be monitored and time of sexual maturation and its related factors should be taken into account in strategies that aim to combat obesity.

Age at menarche; Kuwait; Gulf; Obesity; Overweight; Girls; Puberty