Breastfed Babies are Less Likely to Become Obese: Study Finds
It is no secret the multitude of benefits for both baby and mother when it comes to breastfeeding, but a recent study indicates that breastfeeding your baby may also help prevent infants from becoming overweight adolescents.
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The study conducted by the Flinders University found that infants breastfed for six months or more were 36 per cent less likely to be overweight and 49 per cent less likely to be obese at 16, compared to those who were not breastfed.
Of the 2066 children and adolescents aged between nine and 16 who were studied only 90 per cent of them were fed on breast milk exclusively.
The short-term benefits of breastfeeding in preventing certain illnesses are well known but Jane Scott, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at the Adelaide University, said the research added to evidence that the benefits of breastfeeding extended to later life.
"Even once we accounted for factors known to influence weight - including the mother's age, ethnicity and level of education, and the child's energy intake, exercise habits and sleep time - breastfeeding still appears to reduce the risk of becoming overweight,'' Professor Scott said.
''What happens with breastfeeding is if the infant isn't hungry, they won't eat. With formula, mothers can get preoccupied with making their child finish the bottle. Initially the child will stop when satisfied, but Mum keeps putting the bottle back in the baby's mouth.
''They are teaching their children to override their innate ability to stop when full.''
However, Professor Scott said breastfeeding for a period of at least six months was not a guarantee against weight gain.
''It reduces the risk, but doesn't guarantee prevention,'' she said.
''There are other lifestyle practices that children still need, like adequate physical activity, eight hours or more of sleep, less than two hours of screen time per day and a diet low in sugar and fat, to help prevent them from becoming overweight.''
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