Weight Status and Visceral Adiposity Mediate the Relation between Exclusive Breastfeeding Duration and Skin Carotenoids in Later Childhood

Ruyu Liu, Caitlyn G. Edwards, Corinne N. Cannavale, Isabel R. Flemming, Morgan R. Chojnacki, Ginger E. Reeser, Samantha J. Iwinski, Lisa M. Renzi-Hammond, Naiman A. Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Breastfeeding is associated with healthier weight and nutrient status in early life. However, the impact of breastfeeding on carotenoid status beyond infancy, and the influence of adiposity, are unknown. Objectives: The aim of the study was to retrospectively investigate the relation between breastfeeding and carotenoid status, and the mediating effect of weight status and adiposity on this relation, among school-age children. Methods: This was a secondary analysis of baseline data collected from a randomized-controlled clinical trial. Children 7-12 y old (n = 81) were recruited from East-Central Illinois. DXA was used to assess visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and whole-body total fat percentage (%Fat; i.e., whole-body adiposity). Weight was obtained to calculate children's BMI percentiles. Skin carotenoids were assessed via reflection spectroscopy. Macular carotenoids were assessed as macular pigment optical density (MPOD). Dietary, birth, and breastfeeding information was self-reported by parents. Results: Skin carotenoids were inversely related to %Fat (P < 0.01), VAT (P < 0.01), and BMI percentile (P < 0.01). VAT and BMI percentile significantly mediated this relation between exclusive breastfeeding duration and skin carotenoids, after adjustment for dietary carotenoids, energy intake, and mother education. Conclusions: Weight status and adipose tissue distribution mediate the positive correlation between exclusive breastfeeding duration and skin carotenoids among children aged 7-12 y. The results indicate the need to support breastfeeding and healthy physical growth in childhood for optimal carotenoid status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbernzab010
JournalCurrent Developments in Nutrition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • adiposity
  • adolescents
  • body mass index
  • carotenoids
  • human milk
  • macular pigment
  • pediatric
  • reflection spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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