Association between breastfeeding and childhood obesity among school-going children, 5-16 years of age in Karachi, Pakistan

Document Type



School of Nursing and Midwifery, Pakistan


Background: Overweight and obesity in children are major risk factors for adult obesity, associated chronic diseases, and premature deaths worldwide. In Pakistan, the rate of overweight and obesity among children is on rapid rise. A substantial body of evidences has suggested breast feeding, as being protective against childhood obesity. However, such an association is neither conclusive in literature nor has it been explored in the Pakistani context.

Objective: This study aimed to investigate the association between breast feeding and childhood obesity in school going children, 5–16 years of age in Karachi. Pakistan.

Methodology: In this study, 528 school going children, aged 5–14 years of age (132 cases and 396 controls) matched on age and gender, were recruited from public and private schools of Karachi.

Findings: Conditional logistic regression results showed that being breast fed for less than 12 months [mORadj= 1.96; 95% CI (1.0–3.7)],having a history of not being exclusively breast fed [mORadj= 5.5; 95% CI (2.3–12.9)], exclusively breast fed for less than 3 months [mORadj= 4, 95% CI (2.0–7.8)], and exclusively breast fed for 4–5 months in school going children was [mORadj= 2.6; 95% CI (1.5–4.7)] associated with a higher obesity risk.

Conclusion: Longer duration of breast feeding, and exclusive breast feeds have a protective effect against childhood obesity in a dose-response manner. In Pakistan, future longitudinal studies are urged to confirm this association because of its implications for public health.


International Journal of Nursing Education