According to a study carried out by Stef et al. (518), breastfeeding has a short term protective impact against obesity among young growing children. The authors are quite categorical that the reduced development of overweight is largely attributed to children who prefer episodes of breastfeeding to the normal healthy feeding of common meals.
Children are highly likely to develop unhealthy sucking behavior that may eventually lead to loss of weight gain over a significant period. In the study, weight gain at the age of 1 year was found to be inversely proportional to the duration taken by a child to breastfeed. However, the authors did not manage to correlate overweight effects and BMI after the end of the first year.
Another important factor that was brought into consideration was the pattern of feeding assumed by a child. The research study found out that feeding on demand is the most common type of feeding among children who undergo breastfeeding. In this regard, feeding such children using specific schedule may interfere with the internal body regulation of a child.
In any case, mothers who breastfeed their children often find it cumbersome to control the breastfeeding behaviors of their children especially when they go beyond the age of one year. This tends to give a clear picture of why overweight and breastfeeding are closely related beyond one year of breastfeeding.
In a separate but similar study conducted by Shuhua et al. (3), the Body Mass Index (BMI) of a child often determine the degree of obesity beginning from childhood to adulthood. The authors assert that lifestyles which attract obesity usually begin from childhood. A feeding questionnaire was used to collect data among infants undergoing both bottle and breastfeeding. The data obtained were filled in the questionnaires every month.
From the raw data, it was possible to determine infants who were typical as formula feeders, mixed feeders, and exclusive breastfeeders. The researchers agree that even past studies have demonstrated that “lower breastfeeding proportion increased the risk of high BMI gain in the first three months” (Shuhua et al. 7).
Even in the present research study, it was still evident that children who consumed a lot of bottles or formula milk stood a higher risk of being overweight compared to their counterparts who did not go through the same experience.
However, a research study by Saw et al. (654) failed to reveal any consistent relationship between breastfeeding and overweight or obesity. Although obesity prevalence was found to be 22.5%, breastfeeding had an insignificant effect with the net weight gain that could lead to obesity.
The prevalence of overweight/obesity was 22.5%. Overall, breastfeeding was not found to be associated with excessive gain of weight or increased BMI. Kostas et al. found out that “boys who were breastfed for >3 months had 70% lower likelihood of being overweight or obese (P < 0.01) and breastfed girls had 80% lower odds (P < 0.01)” (563). These findings are similar to those obtained by Eiben et al. (224) who noted that when infants are exclusively breastfed, they stand a high chance of being protected against obesity.
From the above research findings, it is quite clear that children who are adequately breastfed have fewer tendencies of being obese. Their BMIs tend to remain within a healthy range. However, some findings do not demonstrate the same results. This calls for further research to be carried in this area of interest.
Eiben, Gabriele, Hunsberger Monica, Lanfer Anne, Reeske Anna, Veidebaum Toomas, Russo Paola, Hadjigeorgiou Charalampos, Moreno Luis, Molnar Dénes, De Henauw Stefaan and Lissner Lauren. Infant Feeding Practices And Prevalence Of Obesity In Eight European Countries – The IDEFICS Study. Public Health Nutrition 16 (2013): 219-227. Print.
Kostas Priftis, Panagiotakos Demosthenes, Papadimitriou Anastasios, Anthracopoulos Michael, Konstantinidou Maria, Antonogeorgos George and Fretzayas Andrew. Birth weight, Breast-Feeding, Parental Weight And Prevalence Of Obesity In Schoolchildren Aged 10–12 Years, In Greece; The Physical Activity, Nutrition And Allergies In Children Examined In Athens (PANACEA) Study. Pediatrics International 50 (2008): 563-568. Print.
Saw Mei Seang, Sabanayagam Charumathi, Shankar Anoop, Yap-Seng Chong and Tien Yin Wong. Breast-Feeding And Overweight In Singapore School Children. Pediatrics International 51 (2009): 650-656. Print.
Shuhua Shi, Zhang Jianduan, Himes John, Guo,Yuan, Jiang Jingxiong,Yang Liu, Lu Qiaozhen and Ruan Haiyan. Birth Weight, Growth And Feeding Pattern In Early Infancy Predict Overweight/Obesity Status At Two Years Of Age: A Birth Cohort Study Of Chinese Infants. Plos ONE 8.6 (2013): 1-8. Print.
Stef Kremers, Buuren Stef, Stafleu Annette, Thijs carel and Gubbels Jessica. Association Of Breast-Feeding And Feeding On Demand With Child Weight Status Up To 4 Years. International Journal Of Pediatric Obesity 6(2011): e515- e522. Print.