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‘Breastfeeding can lower BMI long-term’

Posted: 13 July 2012 by Hollie Ewers

A new study suggests that women who breastfeed for at least six months have a lower BMI in later life.

The research, published in the International Journey of Obesity, studied more than 740,500 postmenopausal UK women.

The objective of the study was to explore the long-term effects of women’s childbearing patterns on their BMI.

The scientists from Oxford University discovered that the women’s BMI increased according to how many children they had, however, those who had breastfed had a lower average BMI regardless of how many children they’d had.

They worked out that for every six months a woman breastfeeds she loses around 2lb (depending on initial height and weight) resulting in her BMI falling by 1%.

Director of the cancer epidemiology unit at Oxford University Professor Dame Valerie Beral, who was involved in the study, said: ‘A 1% 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.’

The 740,628 participants were postmenopausal women from the Million Women Study, who reported their height, weight, reproductive histories and other relevant factors.

The study authors conclude that more research needs to be carried out to see if other populations outside of the UK, particularly in developing countries, experience the same results.