Can Breastfeeding Prevent Childhood Obesity?
Preventing obesity later in life may start with breastfeeding. That’s the conclusion reached by a review of research studies that have been conducted over the past 30 years.
One-Fifth Of American Children Are Obese
Since one-fifth of all American children are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is an important finding. Several studies apparently suggest that breastfeeding, as opposed to formula feeding, protects infants from obesity, and also that it prevents obesity later in life.
Obesity Prevention Begins With Breastfeeding
From the Abstract of, “Does Breastfeeding Protect Against Overweight and Obesity in Children? A Review.” by Ruth A. Lawrence MD, DD (Hon)
Obesity has become a national problem. It has a serious impact on health. Precursors of childhood obesity have been studied for decades but often do not start until school age. When the investigation begins during the perinatal period, it is clear that excessive weight gain in pregnancy is a significant contributor. Infant studies dramatically demonstrate the protective constituents of human milk as well as the importance of the process of suckling of the breast in obesity protection. It is concluded that obesity prevention begins with breastfeeding.
Breastfed Babies Can Self-Regulate
Some of the details from the review, as to how breastfeeding protects from obesity, include:
* Breastfed babies take only the amount of nourishment they need;
* Mother’s milk provides all the right nutrients and changes in composition as the baby grows;
* There are a number of hormones related to energy metabolism that are found in breast milk, but not in formula;
* Breast milk is also lower in protein than formula, and some studies have shown that excess protein may related to obesity in infancy.
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is working to encourage exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child’s life, and to increase the number of babies who are breastfed worldwide.
Not only is breastfeeding a healthier choice for infants, now we know that it can also provide a healthier future for them too!
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