A major study involving 16 countries has found that breastfeeding can cut the chances of a child becoming obese by up to 25 percent. Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), who led the Europe-wide research and are calling for more help and encouragement to women, who breastfeed. The experts are also calling for curbs on the marketing of formula milk that midled women in to thinking that breast milk was not necessarily better.
Senior author Dr. Joao Breda, from the WHO European Office for Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Dieases said, “We need to see more measures to encourage breastfeeding, like properly paid maternity leave. We need less inappropriate marketing of formula milk, which may lead some mothers to believe it is as good for babies as breast milk.” It was found that more than 77 percent of the children across Europe were breastfed but the rates varied widely.
In Ireland, 46 percent of the mothers never breastfed and in France the figure was nearly 34 percent. WHO has recommended that women should exclusively breastfeed for six months, if they can. The data was obtained from about 30,000 children monitored as a part of the WHO childhood obesity Surveillance initiative.
The initiative was launched in 2007 and the program is constantly being updated and now received data from about 40 countries on children aged six to nine. Breastfeeding rates in the UK are low although 81 percent of the mothers in the UK begin to breastfeed by six weeks that has fallen to 24 percent in England 17 percent in Wales and 13 percent in Northern Ireland. Just one percent are exclusively breastfeeding but 34 percent are still doing some of it. It was found that 16.8 percent of the children who were never breastfed were obese compared to 13.2 percent who had been breastfed at some time and 9.3 percent of children who were breastfed for six months or more.
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