Research from the University of Michigan suggests that higher body mass index in children can delay the onset of puberty.
Lead author of the study, pediatric endocrinologist Joyce Lee, said: "We found that increased body fatness is associated with a later onset of puberty in boys, the opposite of what we have seen in girls, as heavier girls tend to develop earlier, rather than later."
The findings highlight the relationship between weight status at an early age and long-term health implications.
Statistics show that a quarter of boys and 33 per cent of girls in the UK aged between two and 19 are overweight or obese.
A recent study from the Peninsula Medical School revealed that three-quarters of Brits don't recognise that their children are overweight.