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Public Health Nutr. 2013 Feb;16(2):219-27. doi: 10.1017/S1368980012003850. Epub 2012 Aug 24.

Infant feeding practices and prevalence of obesity in eight European countries - the IDEFICS study.

Author information

  • 1Public Health Epidemiology Unit, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, PO Box 454 SE-405 30, Gothenburg, Sweden. monica.hunsberger@gu.se

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the association between exclusive breast-feeding and childhood overweight.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional data are from the baseline survey of the longitudinal cohort study IDEFICS. Exclusive rather than partial breast-feeding is the focus of the study due to the theoretical relationship between exclusive breast-feeding and development of dietary self-regulation. Children's measured heights and weights were used to calculate weight status, while waist-to-height ratio (WtHR) and skinfold measures were examined as alternative indicators of adiposity and fat patterning.

SETTING:

Examination centres in eight European countries (Italy, Estonia, Cyprus, Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Germany and Spain).

SUBJECTS:

The analysis included 14 726 children aged 2-9 years for whom early feeding practices were reported by parents in standardized questionnaires.

RESULTS:

After controlling for education, income and other potential confounders, breast-feeding exclusively for 4-6 months was protective of overweight (including obesity) when compared with children never exclusively breast-fed (OR = 0·73; 95 % CI 0·63, 0·85) across all measures of overweight. Exclusively breast-feeding for 6 months offered slightly more protection than for 4 and 5 months combined (OR = 0·71; 95 % CI 0·58, 0·85). The associations could not be explained by socio-economic characteristics or maternal overweight.

CONCLUSIONS:

This multi-country investigation indicated that exclusive breast-feeding for 4-6 months may confer protection against overweight in addition to other known benefits. There was no demonstrated benefit of exclusive breast-feeding for more than 6 months or combination feeding for any duration across all measures of overweight examined.

PMID:
22916704
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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