Breastfeeding and childhood obesity: A 12-country Study

Jian Ma, Yijuan Qiao, Li Wei, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, Jean-Philippe Chaput, Mikael Fogelholm, Rebecca Kuriyan, Anura Kurpad, Estelle V. Lambert, Carol Maher, Jose Maia, Timothy Olds, Vincent Onywera, Olga L Sarmiento, Martyn Standage, Mark S. Tremblay, Catrine Tudor-Locke, Gang Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (SciVal)


This study aimed to examine the association between breastfeeding and childhood obesity. A multinational cross-sectional study of 4,740 children aged 9–11 years was conducted from 12 countries. Infant breastfeeding was recalled by parents or legal guardians. Height, weight, waist circumference, and body fat were obtained using standardized methods. The overall prevalence of obesity, central obesity, and high body fat were 12.3%, 9.9%, and 8.1%, respectively. After adjustment for maternal age at delivery, body mass index (BMI), highest maternal education, history of gestational diabetes, gestational age, and child's age, sex, birth weight, unhealthy diet pattern scores, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, sleeping, and sedentary time, exclusive breastfeeding was associated with lower odds of obesity (odds ratio [OR] 0.76, 95% confidence interval, CI [0.57, 1.00]) and high body fat (OR 0.60, 95% CI [0.43, 0.84]) compared with exclusive formula feeding. The multivariable-adjusted ORs based on different breastfeeding durations (none, 1–6, 6–12, and > 12 months) were 1.00, 0.74, 0.70, and 0.60 for obesity (P trend =.020) and 1.00, 0.64, 047, and 0.64 for high body fat (P trend =.012), respectively. These associations were no longer significant after adjustment for maternal BMI. Breastfeeding may be a protective factor for obesity and high body fat in 9- to 11-year-old children from 12 countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12984
JournalMaternal & Child Nutrition
Issue number3
Early online date5 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • breastfeeding
  • central
  • children
  • epidemiology
  • multination
  • obesity
  • obesitybody fat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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