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J Clin Epidemiol. 2005 Aug;58(8):849-55.

Surveys of Norwegian youth indicated that breast feeding reduced subsequent risk of obesity.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.



Breast-feeding protects against overweight in childhood, while it is uncertain if it is protective against adolescent and adult overweight. The objective of this study was to examine whether having been breast fed protects against adolescent and adult overweight and obesity.


Participants in the Oslo Youth study examined in 1979/1981 (n=635, mean age 13.1 years) and in 1999. Weight and height were measured in 1979/1981 and self-reported in 1999. Breast-feeding information was provided by the parents in 1979/1981. Potential confounders adjusted for included parents' body mass index and education, mother's smoking habits, participants' physical activity, smoking status, education and energy intake.


Comparing those having been breast fed more than 3 months with those never breast fed, the adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence interval [CI]) between the two groups were 0.27 (0.13-0.56) for being overweight and 0.15 (0.03-0.72) for being obese in adolescent. In adulthood, the corresponding odds ratios were 0.64 (0.33-1.26) and 0.34 (0.12-1.01), respectively.


Breast feeding during infancy appears to protect against adolescent overweight and obesity, while the effect on adult weight status is weaker. With increasing age, the impact of any protective physiologic mechanisms of breast feeding seen earlier in life tends to diminish.

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