LivingWHO says breastfeeding can reduce childhood obesity by 25...

WHO says breastfeeding can reduce childhood obesity by 25 percent

The World Health Organization (WHO) has long warned that if current trends continue, the number of overweight infants and young children will rise to 70 million by 2025. Furthermore, if not remedied, infants and children Obese youngsters will remain obese throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

WHO notes that childhood obesity is associated with a wide range of serious health complications and an increased risk of premature disease, including diabetes and heart disease. And, now, the study ‘Association between characteristics at birth, breastfeeding and obesity in 22 countries’ reaffirms its recommendation to opt for exclusive breastfeeding from birth to at least six months of age to combat overweight: risk can be reduced by up to 25 percent.

Spain, leading the way in obese children

According to this European study, which includes almost 30,000 babies monitored as part of the WHO initiative for the surveillance of childhood obesity (COSI), “the highest prevalence rates of obesity were observed in Spain (17.7%) , Malta (17.2%) and Italy (16.8%) “.

Our country is also in the lead in Europe, only surpassed by Malta, in the highest prevalence of obesity among children who have never been breastfed (21%).

In addition, the article published in the journal ‘Obesity facts’ found a great disparity in the prevalence of breastfeeding in different countries. While in Tajikistan 94.4% of babies were breastfed for six months or more, in France, Ireland, Malta and Spain, only one in four children was breastfed during this time.

Specifically in our country, 22% of babies never breastfed , 45% fed on breast milk for less than six months and only 21% were over that age.

But why is breastfeeding so important?

WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Thereafter, infants should receive nutritionally adequate complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to two years of age, or beyond.

Now this study has shown that breastfeeding can reduce the chances of a child becoming obese by up to 25%, as the risk was higher among children who were never breastfed or who were breastfed for a shorter period with breastfeeding. exclusive maternal.

For all these reasons, the global goal is to increase the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months to at least 50% by 2025.

Dr. João Breda, lead author of the research and Head of the WHO European Office for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases and who also led the WHO Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative, known as COSI , ensures that:

“The promotion of breastfeeding represents an opportunity to respond to the problem of childhood obesity in Europe. Existing national policies to promote breastfeeding, and how they are developed, can lead a country to be more or less successful in the fight against obesity “.

The WHO study has revealed an increased risk of obesity in babies who were born premature or overweight.

400,000 European children are obese

It is another of the alarming figures obtained from a second WHO study: ‘The prevalence of severe obesity in primary school children in 21 European countries’, also published in the journal ‘Obesity Facts’.

After analyzing 636,933 children between the ages of six and nine, it was found that the prevalence of severe obesity varies greatly between countries, with higher values in southern Europe and is generally higher among boys than among girls.

The data from Greece, Italy and Spain, which have the highest figures for severe obesity, are striking, above 4%. Researchers point to the fact that fewer and fewer families follow the Mediterranean diet as one of the reasons.

Do you agree with these conclusions? Do you think we should regain the Mediterranean diet and promote breastfeeding beyond six months? At the moment it seems that the WHO is pointing in that direction and it must be taken seriously, given the serious problems that childhood obesity implies, such as heart disease or diabetes, among others.

Photos | iStock

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