Breast Feeding May Reduce Risk for Childhood Obesity

New York, NY
February 7, 2000

Breast feeding may help to decrease the risk of childhood obesity, says the National Kidney Foundation (NKF). Using data from nearly 10,000 children aged 5 or 6 who received a health exam before entering school, a recent study from Germany found that there were 35 percent fewer obese children in the group that had been exclusively breast fed for three to five months as infants. The rate of obesity was even lower in children who had been breast fed for longer than 5 months.

According to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) childhood obesity is strongly linked to the development of diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes, both leading causes of kidney disease. High blood pressure is also a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. The researchers suggested that their findings may be an argument for encouraging breast feeding in industrialized countries, where the practice has declined steadily. Overweight children tend to become overweight adults, and weight loss programs are often ineffective.

This beneficial effect of breast feeding may be related to higher levels of insulin noted in the blood of children who have been bottle fed than in infants who have been breast fed. The researchers pointed out that these higher insulin levels would be expected to stimulate fat deposits and the development of fat cells. For information about high blood pressure and your kidneys or about diabetes and kidney disease, contact the National Kidney Foundation at (800) 622-9010.