Breastfeeding Reduces Childhood Obesity Risks

Document Type


Publication Date



Background: The present study examined the effects of breastfeeding and its duration on the development of childhood obesity from 24 months through grade 6. Methods: U.S. longitudinal data collected from 1234 children were analyzed using logistic regression models and generalized estimating equation (GEE). Child height and weight were measured six times at ages of 24 months, 36 months, 54 months, grade 1, grade 3, and grade 6. Results: During the early 1990s, prevalence of breastfeeding was low in the United States, 60% and 48% at 1 and 6 months, respectively. Nonsmoking, white, married mothers with both parents in the household, and with income above the poverty line, were more likely to breastfeed at 1 month of age of their babies. Obesity rate of the children increased with age from 24 months to grade 6. Logistic regression showed that breastfeeding at month 1 was associated with 53% (odds ratio [OR]: 0.47, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.30-0.73) and 47% (OR: 0.53, 95% CI: 0.36-0.78) decreased risks for childhood obesity at grades 1 and 6, respectively. GEE analysis showed that breastfeeding at 1 month reduced risk for childhood obesity by 36% (95% CI: 0.47-0.88) from ages 24 months through grade 6. Regarding breastfeeding duration, more than 6 months (vs. never) was associated with a decreased risk for childhood obesity by 42% (OR: 0.58, 95% CI: 0.36-0.94). Conclusions: Breastfeeding at 1 month and more than 6 months reduced the risk of childhood obesity. Rate of breastfeeding was low in the United States in the 1990s, which may have had long-term implications on children.