04 Jan Breastfeeding Linked to Less Belly Fat and Smaller Waist Size
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Gabrielle G. Snyder, MPH
Department of Epidemiology
Graduate School of Public Health
University of Pittsburgh
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Although previous studies have investigated the association between breastfeeding duration and maternal weight change, we still do not know if there is an optimal duration of breastfeeding for mothers in order to realize potential health benefits. Furthermore, these studies were unable to determine whether health outcomes were due to breastfeeding or other health-promoting behaviors, like better diet and more physical activity.
Our study aims to address both points. To test the association between breastfeeding duration and maternal waist circumference, we used traditional regression models as well as two additional statistical methods that allowed us to control for factors that may influence if a woman would breastfeed and for how long. We found that women who breastfed more than 6 months had smaller waist circumference, as well as lower body mass index, one decade after delivery compared to women who breastfed 6 months or less. These results were consistent across all statistical methods.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Regardless of race, socioeconomic status, and other pregnancy-related factors, the relationship between the duration of breastfeeding and abdominal fat persisted. Studies have shown that larger waist size is related to increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. By reducing waist circumference, breastfeeding may play an important role in promoting long-term cardiovascular and cardiometabolic health in women.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: It is important that we fully recognize the value of health-promoting behaviors for mothers as well as babies. Although this study only focuses on breastfeeding following a single pregnancy, future studies should consider total lifetime breastfeeding duration for women as well as other health-promoting behaviors such as nutrition and physical exercise. The experience of breastfeeding can vary greatly from woman to woman, each with unique victories and challenges. It is our hope that this study and future studies will encourage policies that are more supportive of women who want to breastfeed, and ultimately lead to better health outcomes. In addition, policies and guidelines that make it easier for women to care for their newborns and themselves after pregnancy hold promise for improved health for both mom and baby.
Breastfeeding Greater Than 6 Months Is Associated with Smaller Maternal Waist Circumference Up to One Decade After Delivery
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