Obesity and Breastfeeding

21 Jan

Can it really make that much difference?

Does breastfeeding really help you or your child when it comes to obesity?  The surgeon General certainly is convinced.  As are many other  health agencies.  The United States Lactation Consultant Association has even issued a press release talking about this.

This is a big deal.

Breastfeeding has been proven time and again to provide both short and long term protection against obesity.

When a woman becomes pregnant, her body starts stockpiling calories to feed her baby.  Many biological anthropologists have looked at nursing as well and the general consensus is that babies are designed to nurse for *at least* 2 years.  This may not be your goal and it certainly isn’t talked about and accepted in my Utah community, but the biology doesn’t change because the culture does.  🙂
So if a baby is designed to nurse for two years, mom’s body is planning to nurse for that long.  That is a huge amount of calories!  Many women do not lose their “babyfat” because of premature weaning, which contributes to high obesity rates among mothers.
A newer body of evidence is showing that babies who bottle-feed human milk are exhibiting the same obesity and diabetes patterns as their formula-fed counterparts.  The working theory seems to be that bottle-feeding is baby’s first exposure to the idea that “clean off your plate” is more important than following your body’s cues for satiety.  But as most nursing moms can tell you, you can’t make a baby breastfeed.  🙂
When your metabolism is being formed and your brain is wiring in those early years, early experiences with food are so formative.  We know that obesity in early childhood is a very accurate indicator of obesity of adulthood.
If you get a chance, read the press release.  It has some great nuggets.
*if you want the bibliography, let me know and I will post it.

2 Responses to “Obesity and Breastfeeding”

  1. Ibclc2012 January 23, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    Excellent points, and I think you really touched on the typical responses to the Obesity/BF connection. I love the line “biology doesn’t change because culture does!” I’d like to quote you when I am teaching, if it’s ok with you. I would love to have a slide with that line and your info!

    • belcantomom January 23, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

      Thanks, Ibclc2012. 🙂 you are welcome to quote it, if you need any more of my info than is posted here, contact me by email at belcantomom (at) gmail, etc. I would love to see it when you are ready to show others. 🙂

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