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Extended breastfeeding, beyond six months, is associated with lower body fat in nine-year-old children. Additionally, a recent study suggests that postponing the introduction of sugary drinks until children reach at least 18 months may reduce the likelihood of childhood obesity.

Breastfeeding for longer periods linked to low body fat in children                         

The findings indicate that children breastfed for six months or more exhibited a notably lower body fat percentage almost nine years later compared to those breastfed for shorter periods or not at all. Additionally, children who delayed the consumption of sugary beverages until after 18 months displayed a reduced fat mass at the age of nine.

Researchers at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus investigated data from 700 mother-child pairs involved in the US-based Healthy Start study. The study explores the impact of a mother’s way of life and environment during pregnancy on her child’s development and growth.

The study involved mothers with an initial average age of 29, and 51% of their children were male. Interviews were conducted when the children were six and 18 months old, focusing on feeding practices. Results revealed that 65% of infants were breastfed for a minimum of six months. Additionally, 73% introduced complementary foods at five months or later, while 86% tasted fizzy drinks after 18 months.

Introduction to sugary drinks at early age associated to boy fat increase

Study leader Dr. Catherine Cohen at the University of Colorado said that they aim build upon previous research by investigating the connections between infant feeding practices and a more accurate indicator of childhood adiposity, specifically percent fat mass.

In the study, researchers measured children’s body fat percentages at ages five and nine. The results revealed that early introduction to sugary drinks and shorter breastfeeding durations correlated with a more rapid increase in body fat between the two assessments. Children breastfed for less than six months had 3.5% more body fat at age nine, and those introduced to fizzy drinks before 18 months had approximately 7.8% more body fat by age nine compared to those introduced later.