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Keywords:

  • breastfeeding;
  • child eating behaviour;
  • maternal control;
  • satiety responsiveness

Summary

What is already known about this subject?
  • Infants who are formula fed have an increased risk of overweight and obesity compared to breastfed infants.
  • Individuals who are satiety responsive, matching their intake of energy to need, are more likely to be a healthy weight.
  • Breastfeeding may promote satiety responsiveness as the infant has greater opportunity to regulate their intake of milk in comparison to being fed with a bottle. However little research has been conducted on this relationship.
What this study adds?
  • Children who were breastfed during the first year show increased satiety responsiveness during the second year compared to those who were formula fed.
  • At least six weeks of breastfeeding was needed for infants to be more satiety responsive than infants who were formula fed.
  • The infant – led nature of breastfeeding may enable infants to develop increased satiety responsiveness compared to formula feeding which is open to greater caregiver manipulation.

Aim

Breastfeeding may reduce childhood risk of overweight. One explanation for this is that the baby-led nature of breastfeeding promotes appetite regulation as the infant has increased control of the amount consumed. However, the relationship between breastfeeding and later child eating style is largely unexplored. The aim of this study was to examine the association between infant milk feeding and later child appetite responsiveness.

Methods

Two hundred and ninety-eight mothers reported breastfeeding duration and exclusivity up to 6 months post-partum when their infant was aged 6–12 months old. In phase 2, mothers completed the satiety responsiveness and food responsiveness scales of the Child Eating Behaviour Questionnaire and the Child Feeding Questionnaire. Infant's birth and current weight were collected.

Findings

Infants who were breastfed for a longer duration were rated as more satiety responsive (P = 0.001), although no difference was seen for feeding method at birth. Compared to infants who were formula fed from birth, at least 6 weeks of breastfeeding was required for increased satiety responsiveness to emerge. This relationship was independent of the current maternal child feeding style. Food responsivity was unrelated to any breastfeeding behaviour.

Conclusions

Breastfeeding may promote satiety responsiveness potentially through the baby-led nature of feeding.