Duration of breastfeeding and risk of overweight: a meta-analysis

Am J Epidemiol. 2005 Sep 1;162(5):397-403. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwi222. Epub 2005 Aug 2.


Observational studies suggest a longer duration of breastfeeding to be associated dose dependently with a decrease in risk of overweight in later life. The authors performed a comprehensive meta-analysis of the existing studies on duration of breastfeeding and risk of overweight. Studies were included that reported the odds ratio and 95% confidence interval (or the data to calculate them) of overweight associated with breastfeeding and that reported the duration of breastfeeding and used exclusively formula-fed subjects as the referent. Seventeen studies met the inclusion criteria. By meta-regression, the duration of breastfeeding was inversely associated with the risk of overweight (regression coefficient=0.94, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.89, 0.98). Categorical analysis confirmed this dose-response association (<1 month of breastfeeding: odds ratio (OR)=1.0, 95% CI: 0.65, 1.55; 1-3 months: OR=0.81, 95% CI: 0.74, 0.88; 4-6 months: OR=0.76, 95% CI: 0.67, 0.86; 7-9 months: OR=0.67, 95% CI: 0.55, 0.82; >9 months: OR=0.68, 95% CI: 0.50, 0.91). One month of breastfeeding was associated with a 4% decrease in risk (OR=0.96/month of breastfeeding, 95% CI: 0.94, 0.98). The definitions of overweight and age had no influence. These findings strongly support a dose-dependent association between longer duration of breastfeeding and decrease in risk of overweight.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors