BOTTLE-fed babies are a quarter more likely to be fat, World Health Organisation research reveals.
In the largest study of its kind – looking at 30,000 children across 16 nations – experts found breastfeeding protects tots against piling on the pounds.
Although bottle feeding is a great alternative, research has found that breastfed babies are less likely to be overweight in their early years[/caption]
Kids given formula milk from birth were on average 25 per cent more likely to be obese than those nursed naturally for six months.
But in some countries, the risk of being tubby was up to 86 per cent higher.
Experts say boosting low breastfeeding rates in the UK could help tackle the childhood fat epidemic.
One in three kids leave primary school overweight or obese.
Youngsters partially breastfed in the first six months had a 12 per cent higher chance of ending up obese compared to those exclusively given their mum’s milk.
Researchers claim breastfeeding can play a key role in tackling the nation’s fat epidemic.
The WHO and NHS guidance says new mums should breastfeed for six months.
UK rates remain among the lowest in the world. While 73 per cent of babies start off on mum’s milk, only one per cent are exclusively breastfed for six months.
The reasons why it protects against obesity are unclear.
But experts believe breastfeeding delays introduction of solids which may encourage poor eating habits.
We need more support to help new mothers learn breastfeeding skills
Formula also contains more protein, leading to greater weight gain in early life. Hormones in breast milk may also help better regulate feeding.
Families who breastfeed may also have healthier lifestyles overall.
The study, presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow, tracked children up until the age of nine.
Researcher Dr Joao Breda, from the WHO European Office for Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, said bottle is not as good as boob.
He said: “Breastfeeding has a really strong protective effect. The evidence is there. The benefit is outstanding so we should be telling people.
“We need to see more measures to encourage breastfeeding, like properly paid maternity leave.
“We need less inappropriate marketing of formula milk, which may lead some mothers to believe it is as good for babies as breast milk.
“And it would be an excellent idea if countries like the UK with low levels of exclusive breastfeeding tried to reach the European average.”
Sue Ashmore, Director of the Unicef UK’s Baby Friendly Initiative, said too many Brit mums stop breastfeeding too early.
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She said: “We need more support to help new mothers learn breastfeeding skills, and policies that will help them to continue breastfeeding.”
Kate Brintworth, from the Royal College of Midwives, said it is important to respect a woman’s choice.
She said: “This work reinforces the need to increase the resources that are put into supporting women to begin and maintain breastfeeding for at least the first six months of the baby’s life.”
Experts believe breastfeeding delays the introduction of solids which may encourage poor eating habits[/caption]
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