The Science Behind Obama's Breastfeeding Message

baby nursing looking up at motherMichelle Obama in her press conference this week adamantly supported breastfeeding and believed that it would aid in reducing childhood obesity.

Dr. Margaret Lewin, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and medical director of Cinergy Health, offers reasons why Obama's message makes good medical sense:

Exclusive breastfeeding makes leaner babies. This means without the use of other fluids and foods. Studies show that babies who only get breast milk tend to have lower body fat and higher lean mass, and the longer this exclusive breastfeeding persists, the stronger the findings.

Homemade baby food is best.  At 4 years old, children are more apt to have a healthy weight depending on the way they were weaned off of breastfeeding as a baby. Those weaned on a diet based on fruit, vegetables and home-prepared foods have a higher lean mass and a lower fat mass.


Breastfeeding starts the school years off right. Those who are exclusively breastfeed for more than six months are associated with a leaner body shape at the age 5, although this association does not persist throughout adolescence or adulthood.

To sum it up ...

"I think breastfeeding is a crucial first step, but a healthy diet must be continued throughout childhood, adolescence and adulthood," Lewin says. "It is also essential to have a regular exercise program and a significantly decrease passive, sedentary activities such as watching TV, using the Internet, playing video games, etc. This takes a persistent effort of the part of the parents, but also of schools and local communities."

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