Does Breastfeeding Affect the Risk of Childhood Obesity?

Does Breastfeeding Affect the Risk of Childhood Obesity?

Yes! After Valley Family Medicine Residency physicians reviewed over a dozen studies with more than 76,000 infants primarily from the Unites States and Great Britain, they found that breastfeeding lowers the risk of childhood obesity. Based on what the cumulative research shows, here are some feeding guidelines to help lower the risk of childhood obesity in your family:

  • Breastfeeding, even just a little, lowers risk of childhood obesity.
    Ever having breastfed during the first year of life is associated with 15 percent lower risk of a child being overweight or obese over the next two to 14 years of life.
  • Breastfeeding ONLY during first 6 months greatly reduces a child’s risk of obesity.
    Breastfeeding an infant exclusively for 6 months is associated with a 30 to 50 percent reduced risk of overweight or obesity. Formula feeding, or feeding milks other than breastmilk, before six months of age increases the risk of childhood obesity.
  • Later is better for introducing solid food.
    Introducing solid foods before three months of age is associated with a 30 percent greater risk of childhood obesity, but introducing them at four months of age is not linked to increased obesity. Highly caloric solid foods in addition to breastfeeding may be associated with greater childhood obesity, but no specific food or food groups are consistently linked.

Study conducted by Lindsay Gunnell, MD & Jon Neher, MD, Valley Family Medicine Residency and published in The Journal of Family Practice, December 2016.


About Valley Family Medicine Residency Program

The Valley Family Medicine Residency Program is a community-based, graduate medical education training program committed to excellence in the teaching and professional development of highly qualified family physicians. Each class of eight residents train at Valley for three years. Training includes full spectrum family medicine with quality inpatient care throughout Valley Medical Center’s Birth Center, Emergency Department, Pediatrics, General Surgery and Pharmacy. Residents see primary care patients daily at the Valley Family Medicine Clinic and train in obstetrics, behavioral health, as well as in a variety of other outpatient specialties. The residency is accredited by the American Medical Association Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and affiliated with the University of Washington Family Medicine Residency Network.

About The Author

Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office


  1. Denise Stuart

    Great work! So glad to see Breastfeeding research by VMC residents! Thanks for your great support!

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