14.4 million children in India are obese (World Obesity Federation) and the cases of diabetes among children are also rising at alarming rate. Studies have shown that these numbers could reduce of babies are breastfed unto 2 years of age instead of being given formula. Exclusively breastfed babies are less likely to be overweight at age of 7 or 8 as compared to those offered formula and breast milk substitutes. 

Obesity epidemic has increased by alarming rate raising major concerns for health care. Feeding patterns and behaviors are laid down from childhood itself. Hence, it is important to note that breast-fed infants self-regulate their intake. When on mother’s milk, infant feeds as per their requirement and stop when they feel full and cry again only when they are hungry. Formula-fed infants are forced to finish the recommended amount of formula feed slowly diminishing their satiety signals. This leads to poor self-regulation of food intake posing a great threat to long-term food choices and portion control.

 “World Breastfeeding week” (August 1st to 7th) was started by UNICEF in 1991 to take specific actions to raise public awareness about breastfeeding. But, even after 22 years of relentless efforts, we still see ignorance and reluctance on part of mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding.

World Health Organization (WHO) Facts 2013

– Only about 38% of infants, 0 to 6 months old are exclusively breastfed.

– About 220000 child lives could be saved every year with promotion of optimal breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding.

– Globally, 165 million children under five are estimated to be stunted mostly as a consequence of poor feeding and repeated infections

Breast milk which constitutes the very first food for the infant has innumerable benefits and it is unjustified to deprive the newborn of these. Optimal and correct nutrition in first two years of life are important in lowering morbidity and mortality in the long-term.

Written by drpoojachhawcharia

Dr Pooja Chhawcharia is the Senior Nutritionist at eKincare with over 7 years of experience in Nutrition education, diet counseling and research. She is a Registered Dietician with the Indian Dietetic Association and Certified Diabetes Educator recognized by the International Diabetes federation . She is also interested in ancillary sciences such as Yoga and Naturopathy.

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