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Associations between breastfeeding duration and overweight/obese among children aged 5–10: a focus on racial/ethnic disparities in California

Christian E. Vazquez Catherine Cubbin

*Corresponding author: Christian E. Vazquez christian.vazquez@utexas.edu


Research on the association between breastfeeding and childhood obesity and research on racial/ethnic differences in breastfeeding both show inconsistencies. The current study examines: 1) whether immigrant Hispanic women have higher rates of breastfeeding compared to non-Hispanic (three separate groups: African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander, and White) and U.S.-born Hispanic women; 2) whether children who were breastfed are less likely to be overweight/obese compared to children who were not breastfed; and 3) whether associations between breastfeeding and weight status vary by race/ethnicity/nativity. The study builds on prior literature using representative data from the Geographic Research On Wellbeing study (GROW, 2012–2013) and focusing on ages 5–10 years, an age group that has not been well studied (N = 2675 mother/child dyads). Logistic regression was used to investigate the odds of child obesity (≥95th%) and child overweight (≥85th%) in a series of models: unadjusted (each variable individually), demographic (child’s sex, child’s age, mother’s age, mother’s race/ethnicity, and mother’s marital status), socioeconomic status (mother’s education and family income), and full model (mother’s BMI); with breastfeeding included in all models. Interactions between race/ethnicity and breastfeeding duration were also examined. African-American (9.54%) and white (32.8%) women had the lowest and highest rates of ever breastfeeding, respectively. White women breastfed the longest (M = 10.52 months, SE = 0.028) and U.S.-born Hispanic women breastfed the shortest (M = 7.05 months, SE = 0.41), on average. Children of African-American and U.S.-born Hispanic mothers had higher odds of being overweight/obese (74–75%) compared with children of white mothers. No associations were found between breastfeeding duration and child’s weight status in adjusted models, nor was there a significant interaction between mother’s race/ethnicity and breastfeeding duration on child’s weight status; however, mother’s own weight status was a significant driver of child’s weight status and explained the racial/ethnic disparities. These results provide evidence in favor of there being no association between breastfeeding and childhood obesity.

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