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Arch Hellen Med, 25(2), March-April 2008, 159-166


Breast milk decreases the risk of obesity

Escola Superior de Saude do Campus Universitario Jean Piaget de Viseu, Estrada do Alto do Gai - Galifonge, 3515-776 Lordosa, Portugal

A remarkable increase in the prevalence of obesity has been observed in several countries and in different age groups, including the pediatric population, in the last few years. This is a review of the literature on this topic, with an analysis of several epidemiological studies that investigated a possible relationship between breastfeeding and obesity, and of studies that demonstrate the biological plausibility of this relationship and seek to explain the mechanisms that may be involved. Articles published on this subject between 1980 and 2005 were searched in the Medline database using the keywords "breastfeeding", "overweight", "obesity", "children" and "adolescents". Several studies demonstrated an association, but found no relationship between breastfeeding and obesity. One study covering a small sample reported greater adiposity in breastfed children. Different definitions of exposure and outcome were used in the various studies, making comparison difficult. Breastfeeding appears to have a protective effect against childhood obesity, but this issue still deserves further investigation.

Key words: Adolescents, Breastfeeding, Children, Obesity, Overweight.

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