Pediatric overweight and obesity is a growing national epidemic with 15 percent of children ages 6-19 considered obese and at least 22 percent considered overweight. Although there are many suggested causes, treatments, and preventions for this epidemic, a construct that is showing promise in the current literature as a preventive factor against obesity is breastfeeding in infancy. However, the mechanisms by which breastfeeding may impact later childhood weight are unknown. Some of the literature posits the possibility of self-regulation as a key mechanism in the role of breastfeeding in pediatric overweight/obesity. The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in Body Mass Index in children ages 7-18 who were either breastfed or bottlefed during infancy, as well as a potential dose-dependent effect of duration of breastfeeding on decreased BMI. Further the relationship between self-regulation, operationally defined as emotional eating in later childhood, and as measured by the emotional eating scale of the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire (DEBQ) and BMI was investigated. Lastly, group differences between children who were breastfed or bottlefed in early childhood on the DEBQ were also evaluated. Data from 45 children and their caregivers was gathered from Pediatrics clinics at Loma Linda University. The hypotheses that children who were breastfed would have lower BMIs, and that duration of breastfeeding would be associated with lower BMIs were unsupported. Further, results indicated no significant relationship between emotional eating and BMI or a significant difference in emotional eating between children who were either breastfed or bottlefed. These findings are generally inconsistent with previous research and are reflective of a number of limitations in the study. As such, the need for additional research with improved methodologies is discussed.

LLU Discipline

Clinical Psychology




School of Science and Technology

First Advisor

Freeman, Kimberly

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded

January 2009

Date (Title Page)




Subject - Local

Breast Feeding; Obesity in children



Page Count

109 p.

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

The author has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other rights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives