Breastfeeding = Healthy weight for mom and baby

According to studies, breastfeeding means healthy weight for both mom and baby. Breastfed babies have a lower likelihood of becoming obese as children and mom is more likely to return to pre-pregnancy weight sooner than her bottle-feeding counterparts.

In late 2000, United States Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher conducted a Surgeon General's Listening Session in which participants generated ideas for and treatment strategies for prevention of obesity. Listed among priorities to prevent obesity was the promotion of breastfeeding.

A 1999 Bavarian study of more than 9,000 children showed that babies breastfed for three to five months are 33 percent less likely to be obese at age six. Babies who are exclusively breastfed for six months are 43 percent less likely to become obese and babies breastfed for more than one year are 72 percent less likely to become obese.

In addition, some researchers believe that breastfeeding may play a role in preventing obesity in adulthood. Bottle-fed infants had higher concentrations of insulin in their blood, which would be expected to aid in fat deposition. Human milk contains fats and proteins significantly different from those available in artificial infant milk. The proteins in human milk are the correct amount and also easier to metabolize than the large amount found in artificial infant milk and therefore are not stored to later become fat, thereby decreasing the risk of obesity.

To add to the benefits of breastfeeding for infants, breastfeeding also makes it easier for mom to shed the extra pounds put on during pregnancy. Studies show that weight loss from 1 to 12 months postpartum was significantly greater in breastfeeding than formula-feeding women, due primarily to differences in the amount of calories burned by the milk producing mother.

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