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Breastfeeding cuts obesity risk

[Posted: Fri 07/06/2002]

by Deborah Condon

Breastfeeding your baby may reduce their chances of becoming obese later in life by as much as 30%, the results of a new study indicate.

Scientists studied 32,000 children and found obesity was 30% less common among those who had been breastfed as babies.

Ireland currently has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in Europe, with the majority of mothers who do breastfeed, stopping the practise within weeks of leaving hospital.

According to the Scottish scientists, breast milk is thought to contain growth factors that inhibit body fat. They have concluded that breastfeeding can be associated with a modest reduction in the risk of childhood obesity.

The results are in line with previous studies, including one published in the 'Journal of the American Medical Association' recently, which found that breastfed babies were more likely to be thin teenagers.

The results of this study appear in the medical journal, 'The Lancet'.

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  Kathleen Fallon(NurturingFamily)  Posted: 16/01/2003 15:09
Thought I'd share some new studies presented at a conference in California. Here is an exerpt from an article in the San Francisco Chronicle: Breast milk may help control growing appetite Kim Severson, Chronicle Staff Writer Wednesday, January 8, 2003 San Diego -- In the complex battle to halt the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, breast-feeding is emerging as a simple but apparently effective weapon. Results of a study presented Tuesday at a statewide conference on childhood obesity shows that not only do breast-fed babies learn early on how to control their appetites, but they might also experience metabolic and hormonal changes that make them better equipped to maintain ideal weight later in life. Kathryn Dewey, nutrition professor at UC Davis, analyzed breast- feeding research from several years of study that included tens of thousands of children from seven countries. One of the most significant pieces of data came from the University of Glasgow, where researchers studied some 32,000 Scottish children and found that those who were breast-fed had a 30 percent reduction in obesity rates. Breast-feeding is certainly not the sole answer to the childhood obesity epidemic. Researchers say the clearest predictor of which children will grow up too fat remains genetic -- that is, children with fat parents are five times more likely to be overweight. And kids who eat unhealthy diets and don't exercise will become overweight no matter what shape their parents are in. The reasons for breast milk's apparent preventive effects aren't entirely clear, but Dewey suspects that babies who are breast-fed are better able to program themselves to stop eating when they are full. Parents who bottle-fed often over-feed their children, Dewey said. Over-feeding in infancy can increase the number of fat cells. Her study will be published in next month's Journal of Human Lactation. In addition, babies raised on formula have higher insulin levels and prolonged insulin response, which have been associated with weight gain. And some research shows that breast-fed babies have higher levels of leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite, Dewey said. In another piece of research discussed at the conference Tuesday, Adam Drewnowski, a medical and epidemiology professor at the University of Washington, said feeding a child formula helps develop their natural affinity for foods that are fatty and sweet. Formula is made with sucrose -- essentially, table sugar -- which is much sweeter than lactose, the sugar found in breast milk. "Our preferences for taste are hard-wired," he said. "Infants prefer sucrose over less-sweet lactose. And infants will over-consume such sweet solutions." And if preventing weight gain isn't enough of an argument for parents considering the breast over the bottle, many Northern California parents will appreciate this side effect: A study from the nonprofit Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia showed that babies exposed to the varying flavors in breast milk develop better palates later in life and are more willing to try new foods.
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