London: A new study by UK scientists suggests that girls who eat a lot of meat during childhood tend to start their periods earlier than others.
As part of the research, scientists compared the diets of more than 3,000 12-year-old girls.
They found high meat consumption at age three (over eight portions a week) and age seven (12 portions) was strongly linked with early periods.
The researchers said a meat-rich diet might prepare the body for pregnancy, triggering an earlier puberty.
"Meat is a good source of zinc and iron, requirements for which are high during pregnancy,” the BBC quoted study leader Dr Imogen Rogers, senior lecturer in human nutrition at the University of Brighton, as saying.
"A meat-rich diet could be seen as indicating suitable nutritional conditions for a successful pregnancy,” Rogers added.
The study has been published in Public Health Nutrition.