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Breastfeeding:
An approach to combat childhood obesity

corresponding

CHAD BURLESON1, SHANNON M. CEARLEY2*, PADMINI SHANKAR1, SUMAN AHUJA3
*Corresponding author
1. Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA, USA
2. Independent Researcher, Augusta, Evans, GA, USA
3. Lincoln University, MO, USA

Abstract

The global rise of childhood obesity has become a major public health concern due to surmounting evidence of associated health issues, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and some cancers. This requires a multifaceted approach to find solutions that can effectively control the epidemic. One major approach is breastfeeding, which is considered to be the preferred form of infant nutrition. Our review of literature finds substantive evidence that exclusive breastfeeding for at least one year after birth could possibly help prevent childhood obesity. One of the many documented benefits is its role in weight control, with breast-fed infants being leaner than their formula-fed counterparts through adulthood. Breastmilk is rich in many different biochemicals, including hormones that regulate appetite and promote healthy weight. Optimal nutrition should start early in infancy with exclusive and sustained breastfeeding if we are to make any headway against childhood obesity.


INTRODUCTION

Over the last two decades, childhood obesity has continued to climb at an alarming rate.  The purpose of our paper is to provide evidence from literature reviews supporting exclusive breastfeeding to help combat childhood obesity.  From 1999-2010 the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents aged 2–17 years increased from 15.4% to 18.6% among boys and from 13.8% to 15.1% among girls (1, 2).  During that same period of time, the prevalence of obesity among children aged 2 to 5 years actually decreased from 13.9% to 8.4% (3). This data suggests that while some previous interventions have worked, other risk factors have contributed to the uptrend in obesity post adolescence. We suggest t