Some Minorities’ Higher Risk of Being Overweight Might Be Related to Lower Rates of Breastfeeding, Study Indicates
Lower rates of breastfeeding might be a reason for some U.S. minorities' higher risk of becoming overweight, according to a study in the journal Pediatrics, Reuters reports.
While some previous research has indicated that breastfeeding might lower children's risk of becoming overweight, other studies have found no such link. There are several ideas why breastfeeding might affect weight, Reuters reports. According to study researcher Jessica Woo of Cincinnati Children's Hospital, breastfeeding allows infants to control how much they eat, which could have a long-term effect on children's ability to self-regulate their caloric intake. In addition, breastmilk itself could have metabolic effects that help with weight control over the long term.
For the study, researchers examined a group of 739 10- to 19-year-olds. Of that group, those who had been breastfed for more than four months had a lower average body mass index and lower odds of being overweight, the study found.
The finding was true regardless of race or parents' education levels; however, only 11% of black children in the study had been breastfed for at least four months, compared with 40% of white children. In addition, there was a disparity in education levels -- 40% of children whose parents had completed college had been breastfed for at least four months, compared with 18% of children whose parents had less education.
Woo said, "This really does suggest that if we could somehow increase the frequency and duration of breastfeeding in these groups, we could reduce disparities in (obesity)." She added that breastfeeding infants exclusively for six months -- as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other groups -- "is a goal that everyone should strive for." She also suggested that women who have difficulty breastfeeding could seek out resources for help (Norton, Reuters, 3/5).
An abstract of the study is available online.