Mothers who breastfeed are slimmer into their 50s
Researchers from Oxford University calculated that if every mother in Britain breastfed for six months then there would be 10,000 fewer obesity related deaths, from conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, over ten years.
A study of 740,000 post-menopausal UK women, published in the International Journal of Obesity, found that both childbearing and breastfeeding had significant, but opposite, effects on long-term weight.
The more children a woman had, the higher her BMI decades later. However, the average BMI was significantly lower in women who breastfed than in those who had not, regardless of how many children they had.
For every six months women had breastfed, their BMI was 1% lower, even after accounting for other factors known to affect to obesity such as smoking, exercise and social deprivation.
Professor Dame Valerie Beral, Director of the Cancer Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford and study co-author, said:
“Our research suggests that just six months of breastfeeding by UK women could reduce their risk of obesity in later life. A one per cent reduction in BMI may seem small, but spread across the population of the UK that could mean about 10,000 fewer premature deaths per decade from obesity-related conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.”
Originally published on The Telegraph online by Rebecca Smith on 10 July 2012 (link to original)