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New EU report backs 'Breast is best' message

A new European scientific study into childhood obesity reinforces the longstanding message that "breast is best" for mothers and babies.

Amicus/the Community Practitioners' and Health Visitors' Association (CPHVA) has hailed the first results of the EU Childhood Obesity Programme announced today in Budapest as a blow to babymilk companies and their promotion of "follow-on" milks that are high in protein, as the implications of the EU study  suggest that "follow-on" milks contribute to obesity in babies and small children.

Health visitors have always recognised the distinction between high-protein "follow-on" milks and low-protein formula milks. When mothers don't opt to breastfeed, health visitors have recommended low-protein formula milks.

Cheryll Adams, Lead Professional Officer for the Amicus Health Sector, commented: "While we very much welcome this new information on the benefits of low-protein formula milk, it should not in any way detract from the need for us to increase breastfeeding rates in the UK.

"Breastmilk offers infants very many additional benefits, for example, the protection against infection, and human proteins are tolerated by babies' digestive systems better than cow's milk proteins in formula foods.

"For those mothers who, for whatever reason, decide they must use a formula feed there is obvious merit in now recommending one which is low protein over other products due to its protection against obesity."