It has been estimated that 80% overweight adolescents continue to be obese in adulthood (Noller and Paulk, 2005). Added to these problems, childhood obesity imposes huge health care costs on the nation (The Role of Media in Childhood Obesity, 2004). Childhood obesity and overweight also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in adulthood (Eisenmann, Bartee and Wang2002). Obesity usually begins at 5-6 years of age and then during adolescence. There are reports that obesity between 10- 13 years of age is likely to advance to adult obesity (AACAP, 2008). Thus, measures to prevent childhood obesity become very essential to decrease mortality and morbidity in adulthood. One such measure is breast feeding. Research has shown that breast feeding has several benefits both to the mother and baby. One such benefit is protective effect of childhood obesity. In this study, the protective effect of breast feeding during infancy on the development of obesity in childhood will be evaluated and ascertained.
The observations made by the researcher during clinical practice and field visit placements have inspired him to conduct this research. Childhood obesity is a challenge to the society and the physicians. It leads to adult obesity and is associated with mortality and morbidity. This aspect inspired the author to conduct research. As Burns and Grove (1997) stated, clinical experience frequently gives rise to the identification of a research topic and expands scope for reflection. Reflective practice is essential to clinical practice and provides a retrospective look at current practice and questions the reason for doing so. Thus, it is because of reflection that the author was able to raise questions which prompted to this research study.
Several studies have been conducted in the past to ascertain the impact of breast feeding in early years of life on the development of obesity later in life. According to a study conducted by von Kries, Koletzo, Sauerwald et al (1999), there exists a clear dose-response relationship between the duration of breast feeding on the prevalence of childhood obesity and overweight. According to the study, breast feeding has a protective effect on the development of obesity and overweight. In their study, the prevalence was "3.8% for 2 months of exclusive breast feeding, 2.3% for 3-5 months, 1.7% for 6-12 months, and 0.8% for more than 12 months" for obesity and overweight. The authors concluded that prolonged breast feeding is a useful preventive measure for the development of childhood obesity and overweight and that such a measure will decrease the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and other morbidity and mortality associated with obesity. According to a systematic review conducted by Arenz, Ruckerl, Koletzko et al (2004), breast feeding h