Breast feeding 'cuts risk of female obesity'
BREASTFEEDING may help mothers reduce the risk of obesity later in life, according to a study of 740,000 post-menopausal women in Britain.
For every six months women breastfed, their body mass index was 0.22, or 1pc -- lower, even decades after giving birth, according to the research, published yesterday in the 'International Journal of Obesity'.
The observation was made across socioeconomic groups and regardless of the number of children the women had.
While the body-fat measure, known as BMI, was higher in women who gave birth to more children, it was lower in mothers who breastfed than in those who hadn't.
Breastfeeding has also been found to reduce the risk of childhood obesity. More than 1.4 billion adults globally are overweight, according to the World Health Organisation.
Of the 740,000 participants in the study, 88pc had had at least one child and 70pc of those women had breastfed for an average of 7.7 months.
The average age of the women in the study was 57.5 and the mean BMI was 26.2.
While the exact reason for the lower BMI years after giving birth wasn't studied, breast-feeding may set mothers on a healthier trajectory that is long-lasting, Valerie Beral, co-author of the study, said. It seems to be "a very simple way of having a persistent slight reduction".