A recent study might have linked obesity to decreased breast milk production in American women.
Researchers published the study on the relationship between obesity and the nutritional value of breast milk in the Journal of Nutrition in October.
The study was conducted at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the University of Cincinnati, with a sample of 23 mothers who reported having very little breast milk, 20 with moderate breast milk production, and a control group of 18 who only breastfed.
Researchers concluded that the mothers with deficient milk production suffered more from obesity and had biomarkers suggesting chronic systemic inflammation, itself a common consequence of obesity.
Other studies have also explored the relationship between obesity and women’s bodies, with one claiming that the disease can accelerate the early stages of breast cancer and another positing that obese pregnant women can cause their unborn children to be predisposed to obesity in utero.
As previously reported in The Dallas Express, obesity has become an increasingly severe public health crisis as more and more Americans fail to eat well and exercise, resulting in higher rates of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and premature death.
The new study out of Cincinnati also found that obese women’s breast milk had lower levels of long-chain fatty acids and that obesity could be disrupting normal gland fatty acid uptake.
“For women who are exclusively breastfeeding, the correlation was very high; most of the fatty acids that appeared in blood were also present in the breastmilk,” said the study’s lead author, Rachel Walker, in a press release. “But for women who had chronic inflammation and were struggling with milk production, that correlation was almost completely gone.”
“This research helps us understand what might be happening in mothers with high weight status and inflammation, which down the road could lead to interventions or treatments that allow more moms that want to breastfeed to do so,” said Alice Gernand, co-author of the study, per the release.
Researchers in Brazil conducted a similar study in 2021 with 224 postpartum women, 86 of which were obese. This study found that over 50% of women with obesity reported a breastfeeding problem compared to the significantly lower rates reported by the non-obese group.
The reports were attributed to prolactin level changes, mammary hypoplasia, and reduced stromal tissue.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for developing babies. The agency claims that babies who are breastfed have a lower risk of developing asthma, type 1 diabetes, obesity, as well as sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Breastfeeding also benefits mothers in that it can help prevent certain cancers, according to the FDA.
Data from the 2017-2020 National Health and Nutrition Examination indicated that nationally, 41.9% of American adults are afflicted with obesity.
The State of Obesity Report for 2022 shows that the obesity rate for Texas stands at 36.1% and that the percentage of adults who are overweight or obese is 69.8%.