Children Who Are Breastfed Longer Have Healthier Eating Habits Later In Life


What you feed your children in their first years of life could predict their health habits at 6, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study provides more information regarding childhood obesity rates, which has doubled in the past 30 years.

Researchers surveyed more than 1,500 mothers, noting that children who were breastfed for longer periods as infants tended to eat more healthily at age 6 - that is, they drank more water, ate more fruits and vegetables and drank less sweetening beverages. Parents who introduced their children to healthful foods between the ages of 6 months and one year ate a healthier diet later on. Parents who fed their children sugary beverages or juice during their first year of life were twice as likely to drink such bereaves at age 6.

“Seeing these relationships between early feeding and later health really emphasizes the importance of following the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics,” Kelly Scanlon, one of the CDC researchers, said.

Those suggestions include exclusive breastfeeding for six months, followed by breastfeeding until age one. Parents should introduce healthful and nutritious complimentary foods beginning at six months.

Scanlon added that breast milk exposes infants to a variety of flavors, which makes them more accepting of other foods later in life compared to infants who were formula-fed.

“The question we need to be asking is not ‘Why should mothers breastfeed?’ but, ‘Why shouldn’t they?’” Dr. David Katz, editor-in-chief of the journal Childhood Obesity, said. “For all mammals, our first food is breast milk.”

The study also suggested that kids who breastfeed longer in infancy have a lower risk of ear, throat and sinus infections at age 6. Additionally, mothers who breastfed retained about 18 pounds less than women who didn’t breastfeed by the time their children reached age 6.

The study is just one of many that has suggested parents can set their children on the path to healthy eating early in life.

Source:ABC News / Photo Credit: Flickr


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