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Breastfeeding prevents obesity

Breastfeeding prevents obesity
Ella Tan
  • On May 27, 2015

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What you feed your child during infancy affects your child for the rest of his or her life. Medhatter recently attended a press event organised by Nestlé Nutrition Institute, the eminent Professor Berthold V. Koletzko, who heads the Division of Metabolism and Nutritional Medicine at Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital in Germany was in Singapore to speak about early nutrition on childhood obesity and the health effects of protein supply in infancy.

Prof. Berthold V. Koletzko

Prof. Berthold V. Koletzko

Prevention of obesity begins with your child’s diet since birth. The benefits of breast milk are unmatched despite the impressive development of infant formula.

Rapid growth is seen in a baby throughout their first 1000 days of life. Babies double their weight in 4-5 months. It is essential that one food meet all needs. The nutrition they receive affects structure, development & function. Short-term effects include growth and infections and in the long run, it affects their brain function, mental and physical performance, risk of obesity & associated disorders.

According to a mental analysis by World Health Organization(WHO), breastfeeding increases a child’s IQ by 3.5 points in later childhood & adolescence. You may think that a few points increase may not make much of a difference but it actually increases income of about 22.7%.

The first 1000 days include the pregnancy term therefore mothers are advised to have a healthy and well-balanced meal so that the fetus gets sufficient nutrition. Did you know that iron deficiency affects brain development? Being born small has adverse effects. Children who are born small have a higher risk of being obese and are more likely to suffer from heart diseases.

What’s so bad about being obese? Well, obesity causes 44% of diabetes cases around the world and is in fact the 5th leading cause of global deaths.

While it is better to be born big, rapid weight gain in the 1st and 2nd year of life is not necessarily a good thing as it leads to an increased risk of obesity in adulthood. The rapid weight gain in infancy explains roughly 30% of population obesity risk in the USA.

So how does breastfeeding protect your child? While protein is important, excessive protein intake in infancy promotes high & early weight gain and later obesity. Typically, a conventional formula contains a higher protein supply as compared to breast milk.

As great as breastfeeding is, it may not be possible for some people due to a number of reasons such as lack of time or even milk. If your child has to feed on infant formula, do get those with reduced protein but with high protein quality. It is also not advisable to feed infants with cow’s milk as they markedly increases protein supply.

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