Article

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

1 Public Health Epidemiology Unit, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, PO Box 454 SE-405 30, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Public Health Nutrition (Impact Factor: 2.25). 08/2012; DOI: 10.1017/S1368980012003850
Source: PubMed

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.

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