Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Breastfeeding fights long-term obesity:

Women who breastfed their children have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who did not, even decades after giving birth, according to new research.
By Motherpedia
Date: July 11 2012
Editor Rating:

A study of 740,000 post-menopausal UK women, published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that both childbearing and breastfeeding had significant, but opposite, effects on long-term weight.

The more children a woman had, the higher her BMI decades later. However, the average BMI was significantly lower in women who breastfed than in those who had not, regardless of how many children they had.

For every six months women had breastfed, their BMI was 1 per cent lower, even after accounting for other factors known to affect to obesity such as smoking, exercise and social deprivation.

 “We already know breastfeeding is best for babies, and this study adds to a growing body of evidence that the benefits extend to the mother as well – even 30 years after she’s given birth. Pregnant women should be made aware of these benefits to help them make an informed choice about infant feeding,” says Dr Krist Bobrow from the University of Oxford and lead author of the study.

Previous research has shown that breastfeeding can help women lose weight accumulated during pregnancy in the months immediately after birth, but fewer studies have addressed the relationship with long-term BMI.

The average age of the women in the study was 57.5 and the mean BMI was 26.2 kg/m2. Most of the women had had at least one child (88 per cent) and of these 70 per cent had breastfed, on average for 7.7 months.

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