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    Joy Heads

    I find it interesting that in all the discussion about obesity one of the easily modifiable factors never gets a mention. The research that early feeding directly affects obesity outcomes has been around for a long time.(1) The quoted paper has 120 references.

    The effect happens in two ways. Firstly, the product: infant formula versus breastmilk, two completely different foods one ordinary/normal, one man-made. Secondly, in the actual process of feeding: the breastfeed baby controls its own intake, varies the amount taken each feed and finishes when satiety is reached.

    The 11 billion dollar formula industry has sufficient skill and money to market their product so effectively that woman are encouraged to introduce infant formula, as it is ‘close to breastmilk’. What we forget is that infant formula is the sole food non-breastfed babies get in their early deveolping months. It is not part of a mixed diet – like full cream milk versus skim milk – it is their only food. It is not as amazingly complex as human milk so this clever marketing really shortchanges women and their children

    To quote from “Regulating Infant Formula” by George Kent. Hale Publishing (2011) “feeding with formula might be claimed to be good enough for some purposes, but it should never be said or implied to be as good, or nearly as good, as breastfeeding”. (page 83)

    This effective marketing has the effect of reducing exclusive breastfeeding, recommended for at least six months, which research shows is effective in the obesity battle. Maybe we should introduce the so called ‘ fat tax’ and start with the formula industry. The money raised can go towards supporting women to breastfeed in the workplace and by developing more Donor Human Milk Banks of which there are none in NSW. This will give women a real choice to modify their baby’s risk of obesity.

    1. Spatz DL , Lessen R. (2011) “Risks of not Breastfeeding” International Lactation Consultant Association. http://www.ilca.org

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