Archive for the ‘Postpartum Weight Loss’ Category

Does Prolonged Breast Feeding Protect Against Childhood Obesity?

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Research has been somewhat mixed on the topic of breast feeding as a protection against the development of childhood obesity. A University of Copenhagen study examined over 5,000 men and women who were born between 1959 and 1961. At one year the babies who were breastfed for longer periods of time have lower body mass indices. At additional endpoints though, later into childhood adolescence and adulthood, there was no further correlation between the duration of breast feeding and the body mass index. But, the introduction of solid foods at an earlier age was associated with a small increased risk of being overweight at age 42.

It is a bit difficult to know how much credence to give this single study, however interesting. There are undoubtedly benefits of breastfeeding that include nutritional and immunologic benefits as well as psychological benefits to develop in babies. Whether delaying the introduction of solid foods past four or six months does protect against obesity it is a bit difficult to determine, though there may be some small affect at work here. Generally speaking, breast feeding in the early months is healthy for the developing baby and beyond the first three or four months it is difficult to discern the strong effects with the transition to formula and food.

Healthy Weight Children Begins In Infancy

Monday, December 14th, 2009

It’s never too early to think about strategies to protect your newborn from dangerous weight gain and obesity. Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated a significantly reduced risk for unhealthy weight gain among children who are breast fed. In recent years several large meta-analysis studies have examined the relationship between breast feeding and what is termed “pediatric overweight”. Three of these studies compared many other clinical studies that have been published over the years in order to reach their conclusions. In some, breast feeding is associated with healthier weight children and less development of overweight and obesity. The duration of breast feeding is also significant and for each month of breast feeding up to age nine months, the odds of the child becoming overweight decrease by around 4%. Interestingly the protection against the child becoming overweight continues on into the teenage years and even adulthood.

There are many important reasons why breast feeding is healthy for both mother and baby. Infants experience less illness and receive important hormones and antibodies from the mother. Children have less ear infections, less diarrhea illnesses, less incidents of sudden infant death syndrome and many other health events. Mothers experience less postpartum depression, type II diabetes and less breast and ovarian cancers.

The United States Surgeon General recommends breast feeding for the first six months of an infant’s life for all of these reasons. To get the best start in preventing childhood obesity, I recommend breast feeding your infant through the first six months of life.

Competition Can Be A Great Weight Loss Tool

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

A patient of mine had been active as a teenager but gained a large amount of weight after each of her pregnancies and found herself seriously obese in her early forties. As part of her weight loss program, I encouraged her to join our weekly walking group and eventually encouraged her to sign up for a 5K run/walk race. Now the word “race” causes many people to shy away from the event. After all, she had never “raced” before. Certainly, was not in good enough shape to win any races. On the other hand, I knew that once I got her hooked on the idea that she would begin to compete against herself and want to improve her time. In fact, she went on to complete a 10K race and is signed up for some future races. Each race is scheduled several months out in advance and it gives her a target for her “training”. Now, all of a sudden, instead of being a seriously overweight 40-something, she is an active person who is training for races. It changes the way she thinks. It changes what she talks about with her friends and colleagues. It has changed, in fact, who she is as a person. And, oh, by the way, she has lost 60 pounds.

Join us for this year’s Rock n River Race. We plan on having our biggest turnout. Come meet some new friends and give yourself a finish time to try to beat in future events. Check back here soon for information on how to participate with our group this year!

Does Breast Feeding Help With Postpartum Weight Loss?

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Breast feeding provides important nutrients and antibodies to an infant. It provides a valuable bonding experience between mother and child, but does it help postpartum weight loss?

This question has been asked for may years and addressed in a variety of studies that have often given conflicting results. Let’s take a look at some of that scientific data and determine how much emphasis you should place on breast feeding as part of your postpartum weight loss plan.

For starters, it makes sense that if your body is producing some nutrient rich milk and passing on those nutrients to your infant, then your body is experiencing a net loss of calories. So intuitively speaking, it makes sense that a breast feeding mother would be burning and losing more calories more quickly than a non-lactating mother. A number of studies have examined the energy or calories expended with lactation and found them to be quite significant. Several studies have shown that lactating women lose weight more rapidly when compared to non-lactating women. Lower body fat specifically was found in one study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (Kramer, F.M. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1993; volume 93, page 429-433). Studies have also shown that more prolonged duration of breast feeding is associated with more rapid weight loss especially between the third and sixth months after delivery (Ohlin, A. International Journal of Obesity. 1990; volume 14, page 159-173). Measured again at twelve months after delivery, studies further confirm that more of the pregnancy weight is gone in women who do breast feed than in women who don’t (Janny, C.A. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1997; volume 66, page 1116-1124). Other studies however have found no clear difference in postpartum weight loss when comparing lactating women vs. non-lactating women (Haiek, L.N., American Board of Family Practice. 2001; volume 14, page 85-94).

How Much Weight is Okay to Gain During Pregnancy?

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

I recently saw a patient, named Elaine who recounted to me how her weight problems began. She said that while she had struggled with diets and efforts to maintain her weight, she was always able to stay within 20 pounds or so of her desired weight. That is, until she became pregnant.

Elaine gained 35 pounds in her first pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Afterwards, she tried to use the same diet and exercise techniques that she had always used in the past. This time she could only lose about 10 of the 35 pounds she had gained.

A few years later, Elaine became pregnant for a second time. During those nine months, she gained 40 pounds and once again gave birth to a healthy baby. She now found that the exercise regimen she would like to do was often painful for her because she had developed discomfort in her knees and back. Dieting alone was not helping her in the least. And to make matters worse, she also now had a case of heartburn that would not go away, and hemorrhoids to boot!

So what does someone like Elaine do?

While there is definitely a postpartum weight loss solution that I recommend, let’s focus for a minute instead on how to prevent this problem.

As with any foreseeable problem, the key is prevention and being prepared. It is very helpful to know how much weight is appropriate to gain during pregnancy and it is helpful to know that any weight gain beyond this level will indeed be harder to lose.

Numerous studies over the last decade have demonstrated that greater weight gain during pregnancy leads to greater “retention” of the weight, meaning women keep the unwanted pounds on long after the baby is born.

So despite some advice that says, “eating for two” allows you to stop watching your weight, it simply isn’t true. You are far better off watching your weight and carefully regulating the amount of weight gain that occurs during pregnancy, especially in this modern environment in which we are surrounding by such high calorie, high carbohydrate meals and snacks.

Most women should gain between 15 and 25 pounds during pregnancy. Any more than that will lead to retention of excess pounds and increased difficulties with health problems related to weight. Furthermore, future pregnancies are likely to be associated with excess weight gain and may be complicated by serious problems such as gestational diabetes.

And here’s some even tougher news: If you are already overweight and then become pregnant, you should gain even less pounds during pregnancy! This means that for an average woman who may consider herself 20 to 30 pounds overweight before she becomes pregnant, it makes sense to limit the weight gain during the nine months of gestation to just 10 to 15 pounds. Wow! That is a far cry from the 50 and 55 pound weight gain that we commonly see nowadays.

In future posts and articles, I discuss in more detail how to avoid gaining more than the permitted amount of weight and how to maintain your health during pregnancy.


Dr. Kent Sasse, Medical Director | 75 Pringle Way Suite 804 Reno, NV 89502 | Phone: 775-829-7999

Dr. Kent Sasse serves the entire city of Reno and all the surrounding areas. Dr. Sasse is one of the nation's foremost medical weight loss and bariatric surgical experts.
Dr. Sasse has educated patients about food nutrition and weight loss for many years.

Copyright © 2007-2010 Kent Sasse, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

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