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Longer Breast-Feeding Linked to Less Fat in Children

Children who eat a better diet afterwards have more lean mass, study suggests

TUESDAY, June 2 (HealthDay News) -- Children who breast-feed longer have less fat mass and children who eat more fruits, vegetables and home-prepared foods afterwards have more lean mass at 4 years of age, according to a study published online May 12 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Sian M. Robinson, Ph.D., from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined how the breast-feeding and weaning diet affected body composition at 4 years of age in 536 children. Diets were assessed at 6 and 12 months of age and the weaning diet was given an 'infant guidelines' score based on consumption of fruit, vegetables and home-prepared foods.

Based on body mass index, the researchers found that 84 percent of children were of normal weight, 13 percent were overweight, and 3 percent were obese at 4 years of age. Children who were breast-fed longer had a significantly lower fat mass (4.5 kg for breast-feeding for at least 12 months versus 5.0 kg for no breast-feeding). Children with a high 'infant guidelines' score had significantly higher lean mass (12.6 kg for children in the highest quarter versus 12.0 kg for the lowest quarter). A model considering breast-feeding duration and weaning diet could explain 10.1 percent of the variance in fat mass and 21.3 percent of the variance in lean mass.

"In conclusion, our data show that adherence to current recommendations to breast-feed, and to provide a weaning diet based on fruit, vegetables and home-prepared foods is associated with a higher lean mass and a lower fat mass at 4 years of age," the authors write.

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