Background: The increase in childhood obesity is a serious public health concern. Several studies have indicated that breastfed children have a lower risk of childhood obesity than those who were not breastfed, while other studies have provided conflicting evidence. The objective of this meta-analysis was to investigate the association between breastfeeding and the risk of childhood obesity.
Methods: The PubMed, EMBASE and CINAHL Plus with Full Text databases were systematically searched from start date to 1st August 2014. Based on the meta-analysis, pooled adjusted odds ratio (AOR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated. I2 statistic was used to evaluate the between-study heterogeneity. Funnel plots and Fail-safe N were used to assess publication bias and reliability of results, and results from both Egger test and Begg test were reported.
Results: Twenty-five studies with a total of 226,508 participants were included in this meta-analysis. The studies' publication dates ranged from 1997 to 2014, and they examined the population of 12 countries. Results showed that breastfeeding was associated with a significantly reduced risk of obesity in children (AOR = 0.78; 95% CI: 0.74, 0.81). Categorical analysis of 17 studies revealed a dose-response effect between breastfeeding duration and reduced risk of childhood obesity.
Conclusion: Results of our meta-analysis suggest that breastfeeding is a significant protective factor against obesity in children.