ABSTRACT Over the last decade, obesity rates have reached epidemic proportions in the United States of America. Comorbidities associated with overweight and obesity include, but are not limited to, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and elevated cholesterol levels. As a direct result of obesity, data indicates that these diseases are now being detected in an unprecedented number of American children, adolescents, and adults. Although the major cause of the obesity epidemic in America has thus far been attributed to excessive caloric intake and lack of physical activity, this paper will explore the pivotal role that breastfeeding plays in the prevention of overweight and obesity throughout the life course. Epidemiological data demonstrates that breastfeeding significantly reduces the incidence of overweight and obesity and that exclusive and long term breastfeeding has been strongly correlated with a reduction in LDL cholesterol, blood pressure related disorders, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular dysfunction. While it is certain that diet and exer cise are integral factors associated with overweight and obesity, the time has come for a collective recognition of the protective effects associated with breastfeeding if we are serious in our endeavor to eradicate the overweight and obesity epidemic in America.
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