Preventing obesity begins at birth

Breastfeeding has long been recognised as a proven disease prevention strategy. But did you know it can also play a role in preventing childhood obesity.

Preventing obesity begins at birth

Text: Amanda Ndlangisa. Article from the July 2012 issue of Bona Magazine. 

Now published in Showme.


According to Philips AVENT breastfeeding expert, Dr Diana du Plessis, breastfeeding has been known to be crucial for infant survival and offers benefits for mothers and babies.

Babies who are breastfed through the first year of life have fewer illnesses and a lower chance of death and serious illness. Even in times where babies have been fed other first foods, breastfed babies are recognised as healthier and more likely to survive.

Reasons to delay solids

The Baby’s Age – The development of a baby’s gut lining and the set of enzymes required to digest solid food takes up to four months to develop. Until this age, the kidneys are not mature enough to cope with solid food, thus most solids are poorly digested and may cause unpleasant reactions. It’s too early to introduce solids if the baby is less than six months old.  

Head and Neck Control – A baby needs to control her head and neck movement while sitting upright in a chair. Until four months, neuromuscular coordination (the coordination between the muscles) is not sufficiently developed to enable the baby to swallow food easily and the presence of the tongue thrust reflex causes the food to be pushed out of the young baby’s mouth rather than in.

Research has linked early introduction to solids in the diet to obesity, with an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

For mom’s who can’t breastfeed

When confronted with the reality of bottle-feeding, many mothers feel lost and unsure. Choosing the right formula is tricky as there are 45+ different formulas on the South African market.

Breast milk contains two different proteins: whey (60%) and casein (40%). The whey (which is watery) quenches the baby’s thirst, and the casein, also called curd, contains more solids that satisfy the baby’s hunger. Formula milk is designed to mimic this combination.