Do differences in childhood diet explain the reduced overweight risk in breastfed children?

Salome Scholtens, Bert Brunekreef, Henriette A Smit, Gerrie-Cor M Gast, Maarten O Hoekstra, Johan C de Jongste, Dirkje S Postma, Jorrit Gerritsen, Jaap C Seidell, Alet H Wijga

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Breastfeeding has been associated with a reduced risk of overweight later in life. This study investigates whether differences in diet and lifestyle at 7 years of age between breastfed and formula-fed children can explain the difference in overweight prevalence at 8 years of age. We studied 2,043 Dutch children born in 1996-1997 who participated in the Prevention and Incidence of Asthma and Mite Allergy birth cohort study. Data on breastfeeding duration and diet and lifestyle factors at 7 years were collected using questionnaires. Weight and height were measured at 8 years. Overweight was defined according to international gender- and age-specific standards. Compared to nonbreastfed children (15.5%, n = 316), children breastfed for >16 weeks (38.0%, n = 776) consumed fruit and vegetables significantly more often and meat, white bread, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate bars, and fried snacks less often. Overall, breastfed children were less likely to have an unhealthy diet (adjusted prevalence ratio: 0.77, 95% confidence interval: 0.61-0.98). The associations could only partly be explained by maternal education, maternal overweight, and smoking during pregnancy. At 8 years, 14.5% (n = 297) of the children were overweight. Breastfeeding for >16 weeks was significantly associated with a lower overweight risk at 8 years (adjusted odds ratio: 0.67, 95% confidence interval: 0.47-0.97), and the association hardly changed after adjustment for diet (adjusted odds ratio: 0.71, 95% confidence interval: 0.49-1.03). Breastfed children had a healthier diet at 7 years compared to nonbreastfed children, but this difference could not explain the lower overweight risk at 8 years in breastfed children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2498-2503
Number of pages6
Issue number11
Early online date28 Aug 2008
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • Breast Feeding
  • Child
  • Child Development
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Maternal Welfare
  • Overweight
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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