Milk consumption in childhood and adulthood and its effect on body composition
Keywords:milk, breastfeeding, plant-based milk, body composition, milk fat percentage
Throughout their life, people are exposed to many different types of milk. First, it is breast milk if infants are breastfed or special formula based on cow milk with modified composition if they are not breastfed. Later in life, it is recommended that humans consume the milk of other mammals as a source of highly valuable protein, calcium, and phosphorus. This work aimed to evaluate the effects of methods and duration of feeding in infancy and consumption of milk or milk alternatives in adulthood on body composition. We used a questionnaire of 21 specific questions to obtain information on breastfeeding and milk consumption. All 84 participants (18 men, 66 women; age 23.26 ±1.36) underwent measurement of body composition, using BIA methods (InBody 720). A comparison of the information from the questionnaire with the information from the body composition measurement was made. Significant differences were observed in visceral fat area (p = 0.048) and waist-to-hip ratio (p = 0.022) according to duration of breastfeeding. Participants who were fed formula for a shorter time than 1 year (until 12 months of age) showed a higher percentage of body fat (p = 0.047). The fat percentage of milk was a significant factor for the waist-to-hip ratio (p = 0.026). Participants consuming plant-based milk alternatives showed significant differences in waist-to-hip ratio (p = 0.031) and body mass index (p = 0.015) and highly significant differences in weight (p <0.001) and fat-free mass (p <0.001). In conclusion, results show that the duration of breastfeeding may prevent the development of overweight and eventually obesity. Usage of infant formulas as an alternative to breast milk should be limited to those who are unable to breastfeed. The current consumption of milk indicates the benefits of whole milk in the diet but also shows increasing interest in the advantages of plant-based milk.
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