We all know that ‘breast is best’! It’s a well established fact that mother’s milk has a positive impact on child development, good health and wards off a host of ills ranging from allergies to asthma and diabetes.

Now researchers have shown that nursing may also slash the risk of overweight and obesity in school going kids.

The study found bottle fed babies are two times more like to be obese by the age of eight compared to infants that are breast fed.

Link between obesity and breastfeeding assessed
In order to examine the link between breastfeeding and obesity in school kids, the researchers conducted a study. They analyzed data of 43,367 children who were part of Japan’s Longitudinal Survey of Babies in the 21st Century.

Experts gathered information pertaining to how they were fed during infancy. It was noted that 20 per cent of the study subjects were exclusively breastfed for six months.

For the purpose of the study, investigators split them in groups as underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese at 7 and 8 years by using the international cut-offs for body mass index (BMI).
Findings
The analysis found a clear link between six to seven months of exclusive breastfeeding and reduced risk of obesity.

After taking into account factors that could impact children’s weight like gender, exposure to television or computer, mothers’ education, smoking and employment status, experts found breastfed kids were far less likely to be overweight or obese.

It was noted that nursed babies cut their risk of getting overweight by 15 per cent and of obesity by 45 per cent at age seven than those fed on formula. The decline in the threat of becoming overweight was similar at the age of eight, but the risk of being obese dipped by 55 per cent.

Lead researcher, Michiyo Yamakawa, of the Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences stated, “After adjusting for potential confounders, we demonstrated that breast-feeding is associated with decreased risk of overweight and obesity among school children in Japan, and the protective association is stronger for obesity than overweight.”

The study is published in JAMA Pediatrics.

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