(HealthDay News) – While promoting breastfeeding increases breastfeeding rates, it has no effect on the risk of overweight or obesity in children at 11.5 years of age, according to a study in the March 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Richard M. Martin, PhD, from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and colleagues randomly assigned 17,046 breastfeeding mother-infant pairs in Belarus to a breastfeeding promotion intervention or usual practices and assessed adiposity in the children from 13,879 pairs at a median age of 11.5 years.

The researchers found that breastfeeding promotion substantially increased breastfeeding exclusivity at 3 months (43% vs. 6%) and 6 months (7.9% vs. 0.6%). The cluster-adjusted odds ratio was 1.18 for overweight and obesity (body mass index ≥85th percentile) and 1.17 for obesity (body mass index ≥95th percentile). Breastfeeding promotion had little effect on the children’s blood levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 or on a range of adiposity measures including fat and fat-free mass indices, percent body fat, waist circumference, and triceps and subscapular skinfold thicknesses.

“Although breastfeeding is unlikely to stem the current obesity epidemic, its other advantages are amply sufficient to justify continued public health efforts to promote, protect, and support it,” Martin and colleagues conclude.

Several authors reported presenting talks and receiving travel and meeting reimbursement from Nestle Nutrition Institute.

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