Breastfeeding is the best first food for a baby and provides numerous health benefits. It has been found to generally reduce the risk of obesity. However, breastfeeding alone may not prevent all children from becoming obese, revealed a new study. Components in the milk of obese and lean mothers differ and therefore its safeguarding ability on offspring varies from woman to woman.
Jessica Woo and Lisa Martin from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in the US said, "Recent studies show that factors such as whether a child's mother is obese, the quality of her milk and the socio-economic conditions a baby is born into, etc also have an influence."
The researchers reviewed more than 80 observational studies done in the past 20 years, and concluded that the odds of an infant who drank breast milk becoming obese is 12-24% less than for drinkers of formula milk. This protection increases the longer and the more exclusively an infant was breastfed. But Woo and Martin suggested that there is more to the development of obese children than just the type of milk they consumed as babies.
The researchers said, "Human milk studies, work in probiotics, and research on the impact of maternal characteristics also highlight the protective value of having the right micro-organisms in the gut. Such micro-organisms seem to influence what and how much people eat. We believe that educating mothers about healthy lifestyle habits could appreciably reduce obesity in children, and also increase the well being of women."
The review was published in Current Obesity Reports.