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Breastfeeding and Healthy Eating Habits

Posted on 09/17/2014

What your six year old prefers to eat today can be traced back to what you fed them in their first year of life.

Really. It’s true.

Those who were breastfed (and for longer periods in particular), tended to eat more healthfully at age 6 than their counterparts who were formula fed as infants.

Turns out, breast is best. And, breast for as long as possible is the very best.

According to a recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the findings provide insight into understanding childhood obesity rates. Obesity rates have more than doubled in the last 30 years. Researchers are trying to figure out why.

Researchers surveyed 1,500 mothers and determined that children who were breastfed for longer periods as infants ate more healthfully at age 6, drinking water, eating more fruits and vegetables and indulged in fewer sugar-sweetened beverages.

Also, parents who exposed their children to healthy foods earlier in life, between 6 months and a year, tended to continue to enjoy healthier foods later on in life.

The take away here is: healthy eating habits do last a lifetime. Start them young and those healthy behaviors will follow them throughout their life.

Conversely, children whose parents routinely fed their children sugar-laden beverages or sugar-added juice during the first year of life, those children were twice as likely to drink those types of beverages at age 6.

So, basically, consuming sugary beverages early in life tends to create children more inclined to continue later in life.

The overarching theme was simple: what you feed your infant will provide their food preferences later in life. Some research also suggests that this starts even earlier, in the womb.

Childhood nutrition experts not related to the study said the study highlights the importance of shaping a child’s eating habits early in life. And, long standing research proves breastfeeding helps children start life out on the right nutrition path.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.


Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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