Today, when the health of American children is threatened by the numerous side effects of being obese and the conditions that stem from this problem, investigation and research of any factors, affecting healthy weight of a person are of a great value. In accordance with the results of a study conducted by Julie Armstrong and John Reilly, children who are breast-fed during infancy are at a reduced risk of becoming obese. The study argues that there exists a strong rationale between the nutrition during the early life of the infants and the risk of developing childhood obesity.
The hypothesis of the research is that the infancy breastfeeding may significantly decrease the risk of becoming overweight or obese in the future. The authors of the study conducted a quantitative research on a sample group of 52 394 children. 2 subgroups included infants exclusively breastfed or exclusively formula-fed. The body mass index was measured and analyzed for every child. This analysis has revealed the fact that the prevalence of obesity was significantly lower among breastfed infants in comparison with formula-fed children. The study also discovered that the birth weight was positively and significantly associated with obesity rates at the age of around three- three and a half years. No significant link between breastfeeding and socioeconomic status was found.
The results of this research are important due to a potential possibility of their implementation and use in certain population-based strategies and educational programs objected at obesity levels reduction and prevention. Taking into account the fact that the prevalence of childhood obesity is dramatically increasing in many developed countries, the tracking of factors leading to childhood obesity is absolutely crucial. The significant preventive and protective effect of breastfeeding against the obesity development is able to add to the general decrease of obesity levels. By promoting and encouraging breastfeeding, one can make a significant step on the way to curbing the epidemics.
- Armstrong, J. & Reilly, J.J. (2004). Breastfeeding and lowering the risk of childhood obesity. Lancet, 359, 2003-2004.