Exclusive breastfeeding can reduce risk of childhood obesity by up to 25%

Mother Breast Feeding

Finding comes from a study released by the World Health Organization, made with about 30 thousand children in Europe. Understand!

Exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of life, without formulas or other foods, can reduce the risk of obesity even in childhood by 25%. The data comes from the World Health Organization, which released at the last European Congress of Obesity a major survey on the subject, done with more than 30 thousand children in 16 countries in Europe.

On the other hand, children who were not breastfed or who took their mother’s milk for less than six months were more likely to be obese at six to nine years of age – 16% of them faced the problem, whereas those fed only with the chest the incidence was 9%. There are several explanations for this positive effect.

For example, breastfeeding delays the introduction of solid foods, which may be more caloric and inappropriate for this stage of life, in addition to being related to a healthy eating habit. “The taste of breast milk, which varies with each feed, means that the baby fed has, according to research, the most varied taste and the easiest acceptance of vegetables, fruits and vegetables afterwards,” comments Mônica Carceles Fráguas, a neonatologist and pediatrician. coordinator of the Maternity Nursery Pro Matre Paulista.

The milk formulas, used as substitutes, can also facilitate the increase of adipose tissue in the organism. “When we feed, insulin, a hormone that works in the accumulation of fat, goes up normally, but the formula seems to cause a higher increase at these levels,” Monica explains.

Other risk factors for childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is a worldwide public health problem, and there are other risk factors already known to it besides artificial breastfeeding. Among them, the family menu, which should not exaggerate in the fats and carbohydrates of poor quality, such as those of ultraprocessed foods. “Another factor is the reduced practice of physical activities, because today children have lost the habit of running and playing outdoors, and spend more time in electronic devices,” says the pediatrician.

Breastfeeding and obesity in adulthood

A team from the Federal University of Pelotas, in Rio Grande do Sul, has long studied the long-lasting effects of exclusive breastfeeding. In 2018, the group published a study that indicates that it can impact much later, at 30 years of age. More than 3,700 adults and their records of breastfeeding and health were analyzed.

Among the findings, breast milk was associated with a decrease in the layer of visceral fat, the most damaging to health, and the increase in lean body mass. Another finding is that breast milk could even moderate the expression of one of the genes linked to obesity, the FTO, which would help reduce the risk of the disease appearing.

The positive results, published in the journal Nature Reports , have yet to be confirmed by further studies. While this does not occur, it is worth remembering that taking formula is not a sentence of poor health for the child. Other factors, such as food education, physical activity level, and family behavior count heavily on weight control and the body of the baby as a whole.

“Taking artificial formula does not mean that the child will be obese,” says Mônica. If this is unavoidable, an alternative may be mixed breastfeeding with a little breast milk, and periodic monitoring of the child’s weight with a trusted pediatrician. “Avoiding the excessive supply of carbohydrates such as breads, crackers, processed juices and stimulating outdoor games are also measures that help maintain health,” concludes the doctor.

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