Effect of Lactation on Nutritional Status in Urban Women from Low Middle Income Families


  • Nutrition Foundation of India, New Delhi, 110 016, India
  • Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, 641 043, India


In India breast feeding is universal. Studies carried out in the 1980s have shown that in women from low income families, lactation during the first six months was associated with weight loss. Over time there has been substantial reduction in under-nutrition across all groups including lactating women and over-nutrition has emerged as a public health problem. A study was taken up to assess the impact of universal and prolonged lactation on nutritional status and adiposity in 2240 women from urban low middle income group; 83.5% were 18-29 years of age and 16.5% were 30 years or older. As lactating women had to meet the energy cost of milk production, they weighed less and had lower mean BMI, MUAC, HC and WC as compared to non-lactating women. Prevalence of under-nutrition was higher and over-nutrition was lower in lactating women as compared to non-lactating women. In this community, prevalence of under-nutrition was low and lactation was not associated with persistent deterioration in nutritional status in either of the age groups; identifying lactating women who are under-nourished, providing them with nutrition education and take home rations continuously and monitoring their improvement may result in steep reduction in under-nutrition rates. Prevalence of over-nutrition in lactating women especially in ≥ 30 year age group was high; over-nutrition rates increased with waning lactation. Nutrition and health education on importance of increasing physical activity and interventions to promote discretionary physical activity are urgently required to halt the rise in over-nutrition and risk of non-communicable diseases in these women.


Adiposity, Abdominal Adiposity, Duration Of Lactation, Low Middle Income Families, Over Nutrition, Under-Nutrition, Urban Women.

Subject Discipline

Public Health Nutrition

Full Text:


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