The objective of the study was then "to determine whether breastfeeding and its duration are associated with a reduced risk of being overweight among young children in the United States." (American Medical Association, 2001)
According to the research, the data gathering proceeded by utilizing information on infant feeding and child overweight status from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). This is a cross-sectional health examination survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (NCHS/CDC) from 1988-1994. Through a stratified, multi-stage probability design, a sample of 2685 US-born children between the ages of 3 to 5 years (36-71 months) was taken. From this sample, birth certificates, details regarding height and weight measures, and information on infant feeding were obtained.
The statistical results showed that there was a weak association between duration of full breastfeeding and child body mass index (BMI). However, there were factors that were significantly associated with child overweight in the multiple logistic regression models. By far the strongest predictor of child BMI status was the mother's concurrent BMI. Children were at moderately increased risk for being at risk of overweight with an overweight mother but nearly 3 times more likely to be at risk of overweight with maternal obesity. Furthermore, overweight in early childhood was nearly 3-fold greater with maternal overweight and more than four-fold greater with maternal obesity. The study concludes with "there are inconsistent associations among breastfeeding, its duration, and the risk of being overweight in young children. Breastfeeding continues to be strongly recommended, but may not be as effective as moderating familial factors, such as dietary habits and physical activity, in preventing children from becoming overweight." (American Medical Association, 2001)
The manner by which this research is conducted is very much ethical in the sense that there was no need to actually study and 'experiment' on the children. This would have had negative effects on the young children since their weights and eventual self-images are in question. The use of existing records and information as well as corresponding statistical analyses have been sufficient in arriving at the conclusion. The research design which used an ethnically-diverse sample also leads to a more consistent generalization of the results.
From the findings of this research, a call for the more active role of the nursing clinical practice can be very beneficial in helping a population who is increasingly having problems with early childhood overweight. Because the association between duration of breastfeeding and being at the risk of overweight is inconclusive, then the emphasis should go back to the different socio-demographic and intervening familial factors among children. Since breastfeeding alone is not sufficient to prevent the development of weight problems at the onset of childhood, then the research leads us to the extent by which familial tendencies to obesity are genetic or associated with shared dietary and activity habits. The challenge for the