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Study Shows Extended Breastfeeding Reduces Risks of Teen Obesity

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

While most breastfeeding moms have already heard that breastfeeding their children can lead to reduced incidences of obesity in adulthood, many probably haven't seen any of the studies that actually back this up.

Ran across such a study earlier today that has been published by Dr. Matthew W. Gillman and that is available (at cost) at the Journal of American Medical Association web site.

A few key takeaway points from the study:

* Ignoring sociocultural factors, the study still shows that the longer an infant is breastfed, the lower the chance that they'll be overweight as a teenager.

* The study looked at multiple children within the same family who were breastfed for longer or shorter time periods. The siblings that were breastfed longer were slightly less likely to become overweight during their teen years.

* For each four month increase in breastfeeding, the risk of obesity dropped by 6%

* One theory behind the study is that breast milk has lasting metabolic effects that can aid in long-term weight management.

Yet another great reason to make sure your kid's no weaner!


  1. Blogger Judy | 6:05 AM |  

    It's official. I can blame my weight problem on my mother who never breastfed me.

    Another question: when do the benefits of continued breastfeeding stop? 1 year? 2? 3? 4?

  2. Blogger Jennifer | 6:15 AM |  

    Don't think I haven't been temptede...though I know that it's more likely linked to my love of good food. ;)

    The benefits of continued breastfeeding don't really stop. The World Health Organization reccomends nursing until at least two and the American Acadamy of Pediatrics is now pushing for a minimum of a year.

    Breast milk changes in composition over time, becoming more fatty as children get older and offering up different health benefits for as long as they continue nursing. I believe that studies show that most children will "naturally" wean sometime between 2 and 3, but some of our regular posters who are extended nursers can likely answer that better.

  3. Anonymous Amy | 11:56 AM |  

    Great study, but I'd have loved to see the results worded differently. For example, "Study Shows Failing to Breastfeed Increases Risks of Teen Obesity." Etc.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Anonymous Amy | 11:58 AM |  

    Oh, and to address your comment - Dr. Kathryn Dettweiler has determined that if there were no culture, on a simple biological basis, children would wean sometime between the ages of 5 and 7.

    We do have culture, however, and the culture here in America, at least, strongly pushes for early weaning in various ways. So, the vast majority of kids wean way earlier than 5, even kids that are considered "extended breastfeeders."

  5. Anonymous Mama C-ta | 6:33 PM |  

    I have heard so many of the benefits of BF but rarely here the research behind it. Love this post and agree w/Amy. Should be reworded as she suggested. We're too polite "breastmilk decreases the chances of ear infections, etc" when it should be "use of formula INCREASES the risk of ear infections, etc."

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