|Abstract: ||Background: The rate of obesity in Canada has been increasing at an alarming rate with one-third of children and adolescents being overweight or obese. Canadians are closely following the American’s lead in the obesity epidemic, which poses a serious public health concern. Childhood obesity increases the likelihood of long-term complications, and hence, burdens the healthcare system. The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding as the golden standard in achieving the appropriate growth factors and nutritional needs for children. Thus, exclusive breastfeeding has gained researchers’ attention as a potential protective or modifiable factor for childhood obesity. Objective: The aim of this literature review was to assess whether exclusive breastfeeding for at least three months is protective against obesity in Canadian and American children ages 1 to 11, when comparing those who were not exclusively breastfed for at least three months.
Methods: A search of published studies using the terms “(child* OR pediatric) AND (obesity OR overweight) AND (breastfeed* OR breastfed)” in PubMed, Medline, and Scopus was conducted. Results were subjected to inclusion and exclusion criteria, yielding five relevant articles for further examination. Results: One prospective cohort study and four cross-sectional studies were reviewed. Obesity was measured with BMI scales and nine-level figure drawings, and breastfeeding data was collected through interviews and surveys. Three studies found no significant relationship between exclusive breastfeeding and childhood obesity, while the remaining two studies found a significant association. Conclusions: Exclusive breastfeeding for at least three months may be protective against obesity in Canadian and American children ages 1 to 11 when compared to no exclusive breastfeeding; however, discrepancies in the evidence make it difficult to ascertain the association, and further research is required. Although the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding are clear, further investigation into the underlying social factors predisposing children to obesity should also be conducted.|