World Health Organisation reveals link between breastfeeding and lower child obesity rates

17 May 2019

Image: Pixabay

Results of a study were reported during Glasgow’s 2019 European Congress on Obesity

World Health Organisation (WHO) researchers in attendance at the European Congress on Obesity held in Glasgow earlier this month revealed that breastfeeding is linked to lower rates of child obesity.

The study found that child obesity is more prevalent among children who had never been breastfed, or who were only breastfed for a period of up to six months.

With child obesity rates on the rise globally, Scotland is faced with its own challenges.

Nearly one third of Scotland’s children are at risk of being overweight, according to a 2018 publication by the Scottish Government.

Infographic: Qian Zhao

In the same year, the World Health Organisation published its  Health Situation” report, which ranked the UK beneath only two other nations as the most obese in Europe.

Other reports, such as 2018’s Active Healthy Kids Scotland report card – which graded Scotland’s children an F for overall physical activity – reveal a trend of increasing obesity rates among Scottish children.

Professor John Reilly, international executive of the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance,and Professor of Physical Activity and Public Health Science at the University of Strathclyde, cites “socioeconomic deprivation” as the main reason behind Scotland’s child obesity issue.

He said: “One of the main reasons why the prevalence of obesity is so high in Scotland is related to deprivation.

“We have a more economically deprived population compared to the rest of the UK, and compared to much of the rest of Europe.”

Obesity rates put Scotland’s children at high risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, joint problems, liver disease, and can have a negative impact on mental wellbeing.

Dr Anna Gryka, Policy Officer at Obesity Action Scotland suggests “improvements could be made” on nutrition policies in Scotland’s schools.

She said: “Children in Scotland are offered pudding in school, or offered it as an option. When choosing between pudding or soup, most children will of course opt for the pudding.”

In 2018, England launched a ban on junk food advertising on public transport in

attempt to curb its own child obesity problems.

North of the border, the Scottish government’s Diet and Obesity Strategy is aiming to address problems related to obesity by focusing on diets and physical activity.

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