In developed nations, weight usually increases with childbirth. Now, scientists have observed that breast feeding for 6 months can reduce body mass index by almost 1 percent.
Body mass index (BMI) or 'Quatelet Index' was first devised by Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet between 1830 and 1850. It is calculated 'as the individual's body weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters.' In simple words, BMI tells you whether your body height and weight are proportionate to your age or not and whether you have the right body size for your age.
AdvertisementAccording to scientists, repeated child births and breast feeding can affect a woman's body mass index.
Bobrow and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional, population-based study to assess the relationship between parity and body mass index and their long-term aftermaths. The study was published in International Journal of Obesity 2013.
Around 740 628 postmenopausal females participated in The Million Women Study in Scotland and England during 1996-2001. Their weight, height, reproductive histories, etc were recorded.
The females were aged between 50 to 64 years and their mean BMI was 26.2 kg m−2. Around 88 percent of women were parous with two children. A rise in BMI was observed with repeated childbirths. The BMI increased from 25.6 kg m−2 to 27.2 kg m−2 in nulliparous women.
Around 70% parous women included in the study had ever breastfed and their average total duration of breastfeeding was 7.7 months
With increasing parity, the mean BMI remarkably dropped in breast-feeding women as compared to those who did not breastfed. For every six months of breast-feeding, the BMI fell by 0.22 kg m−2.
On an average, a fall of 1 percent was noted in BMI for every six months of breast-feeding. The experts said that the results were not affected by socioeconomic status, physical activity, region or smoking.
The final conclusion drawn was that obesity and childbirths are interlinked. The scientists observed that the decrease in BMI caused by six months of continuous breast-feeding among UK women could also lower their vulnerability to obesity-associated ailments.
Persistent effects of women's parity and breastfeeding patterns on their body mass index: results from the Million Women Study; Bobrow et al; International Journal of Obesity 2013.