Anthropometry and body composition of 18 year old men according to duration of breast feeding: birth cohort study from Brazil

Victora, Cesar G; Lima, Rosangela C; Barros, Fernando; Horta, Bernardo L; Wells, Jonathan
October 2003
BMJ: British Medical Journal (International Edition);10/18/2003, Vol. 327 Issue 7420, p901
Academic Journal
Abstract Objective: To assess the association between duration of breast feeding and measures of adiposity in adolescence. Design: Population based birth cohort study. Setting: Pelotas, a city of 320 000 inhabitants in a relatively developed area in southern Brazil. Participants All newborn infants in the city's hospitals were enrolled in 1982; 78.8% (2250) of all male participants were located at age 18 years when enrolling in the national army. Main outcome measures: Weight, height, sitting height, subscapular and triceps skinfolds, and body composition (body fat, lean mass). Results: Neither the duration of total breast feeding nor that of predominant breast feeding (breast milk plus non-nutritive fluids) showed consistent associations with anthropometric or body composition indices. After adjustment for confounding factors, the only significant associations were a greater than 50% reduction in obesity among participants breast fed for three to five months compared with all other breasffeeding categories (P=0.007) and a linear decreasing trend in obesity with increasing duration of predominant breast feeding (P=0.03). Similar significant effects were not observed for other measures of adiposity. Borderline direct associations also occurred between total duration of breast feeding and adult height (P=0.06). Conclusions: The significant reduction in obesity among children breast fed for three to five months is difficult to interpret, as no a priori hypothesis existed regarding a protective effect of intermediate duration of breast feeding. The findings indicate that, in this population, breast feeding has no marked protective effect against adolescent adiposity.


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