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Media Release: NEW STUDY CONCLUDES BREASTFEEDING LOWERS RISK OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY



Contact: Kimberly Cavaliero or Mary Lofton Phone: 847-519-7730 ext. 233 or ext. 271

SCHAUMBURG, IL (July 29, 1999) - A new study following more than 9,000 children from birth through age six has concluded that breastfed babies have a lower likelihood to become obese as children.

German scientists conducting the survey in Bavaria indicated that babies breastfed for 3-5 months were 33% less likely to be obese at age 6. Babies who were exclusively breastfed for 6 months were 43% less likely to become obese and babies breastfed for more than 1 year were 72% less likely to become obese. Researchers took into account such factors as eating habits, socioeconomic class, birth weight, parents' and siblings' ages, amount of outdoor activity, and whether or not the child had their own bedroom.

In addition to the hard evidence, 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. Human milk contains the correct amount of protein a baby needs. The proteins in human milk are 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.

Preventing obesity in children should be a useful strategy in preventing later heart disease because weight loss interventions in obese children are costly and many times unsuccessful. This study can play a large role in encouraging breastfeeding in industrialized countries.

The study, which was published last week in the British Medical Journal, is the largest study to date exploring the role of breastfeeding in preventing obesity in children.

For more information on the benefits of breastfeeding or for a referral to a local La Leche League Leader, call 1-800-LALECHE. Founded in 1956, La Leche League International's mission is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through support, encouragement, education, and information, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of baby and mother. Local La Leche League Leaders are available to answer questions and give assistance to breastfeeding mothers in communities throughout the United States as well as 65 other countries around the world. Visit our web site at www.lalecheleague.org

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