Association of breast-feeding and feeding on demand with child weight status up to 4 years


OBJECTIVES: The mechanisms underlying the protective effect of breast-feeding on the development of childhood overweight are unclear. This study examines the association of breast-feeding with weight gain in the first year, and body mass index (BMI) and overweight up to 4 years. In addition, we examine possible mechanisms of this effect (i.e., feeding pattern, eating style, unhealthy snacking behavior). METHODS: Data originated from the KOALA Birth Cohort Study (N = 2 834). Questionnaires assessed breast-feeding duration up to 12 months, feeding pattern (i.e., feeding on demand or feeding to schedule) at 3 months, BMI at 1, 2 and 4 years, eating style (e.g., slow eating) at age 1, and unhealthy snacking at age 2. Linear and logistic regression analyses were used to examine the association of breast-feeding and feeding pattern with eating style, unhealthy snacking, BMI z-scores and overweight. RESULTS: Each additional month of breast-feeding was associated with less weight gain in the first year (regression coefficient B = -37.6 g, p < 0.001), a lower BMI z-score at age 1 (B = -0.02, p < 0.01), and a lower odds of being overweight at age 1 (odds ratio = 0.96, p < 0.05). Breast-feeding was associated with fewer unhealthy snacking occasions per week at age 2 (B = -0.19 for each month of breast-feeding, p < 0.001), but was unrelated to eating style. Feeding pattern was unrelated to all outcome variables after adjustment for breast-feeding duration. CONCLUSIONS: The study showed a short-term protective effect of breast-feeding against overweight development. Possible mechanisms through which breast-feeding may protect against overweight include less unhealthy snacking behavior, but not feeding pattern or child’s eating style. JID: 101256330; 2010/09/22 [aheadofprint]; ppublish

International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, (6), 2-2, e515–22