Saturday, October 24, 2009

Breastfeeding and Obesity

You may have read that breastfeeding helps prevent childhood (and by implication, adult) obesity. According to recent statistics 2/3 of US adults and 1/5 of US children are either overweight or obese. That's really appalling! Obesity is a contributing factor in a wide variety of serious health conditions ranging from blood pressure problems to diabetes to cancer.

Health experts agree that it is important to address this problem on both a national and a local level. In July the CDC released an important document, "Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States." This document presents 24 strategies that local communities can implement in their effort to curb the rising tide of childhood obesity. The strategies deal with food choices, exercise, availability of safe public transportation, etc. One strategy, however, stands out to me as a lactation consultant.

Strategy 11 states: Communities Should Increase Support for Breastfeeding. The document urges all governmental employers to set aside a specific place where employees can pump and store their milk. It also shows the relationship between the percentage of breastmilk a baby receives and the likelihood of childhood obesity.

What a timely statement for the CDC to make. In this time of recession when many women truly can't afford NOT to breastfeed, they have yet another incentive to do just that! However, this message isn't making it to the women who most need to hear it. The challenge facing breastfeeding advocates is clear: we must find a way to work in cooperation with local, regional and state organizations to help all mothers understand the importance of breastfeeding. I'm excited about taking on this challenge in Huntsville! How about you? Will you rise to challenge in your community??

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