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Editorial |

Breastfeeding May Help Prevent Childhood Overweight

William H. Dietz, MD, PhD
JAMA. 2001;285(19):2506-2507. doi:10.1001/jama.285.19.2506.
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Prior to publication of the studies by Hediger et al1 and Gillman et al2 in this issue of THE JOURNAL, only reducing the number of hours children watched television qualified as a potentially effective preventive3 and therapeutic strategy for childhood obesity.4,5 These articles1,2 in this issue examine the effect of early breastfeeding experience on the development of later obesity and suggest that breastfeeding may be added as a preventive intervention. Both studies use the same definitions of overweight. Children whose body mass index (BMI) on the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts was between the 85th and at the 95th percentiles for age and sex were considered at risk of overweight, and children whose BMI was at the 95th percentile or greater were considered overweight. In young adults, these percentiles are roughly equivalent to a BMI of 25 to 30 kg/m2, which identifies overweight in adults, and to a BMI of 30 kg/m2 or higher, which identifies obesity. However, important differences exist between the 2 studies with respect to sample size, age, and results.

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