Mothers who eat more carbohydrates in relation to fats during the months they are breastfeeding may have higher levels of a hormone known as leptin in their blood, reports the US Agricultural Research Service (ARS). This is in contrast to lactating women who eat more fats than carbohydrates.
In collaboration with investigators from the University of California at Davis and University of Maryland at College Park, ARS scientists conducted a study to look at whether higher leptin levels may be an advantage for women who want to trim pounds that they gained during their pregnancy. Leptin, made by the body's fat cells, is thought to help contribute to satiety-a feeling of fullness.
The lactation findings come from a statistical review, known as a multivariate analysis, of food records and blood leptin levels of 47 lactating women, aged 20 to 40 years.
According to the ARS, the results agree with those from an earlier study in which other researchers evaluated the food choices and leptin levels of 19 normal-weight, non-pregnant females, aged 20 to 43 years. But the lactating mothers experiment apparently is the first to look at leptin levels in post-partum women-an at-risk population for weight gain.
ARS adds that women who, during pregnancy, exceed the rate and total amount of weight gain recommended have an increased risk of retaining the excess weight.