New Zealand Labour Party

Breastfeeding an important tool in obesity battle

It is deeply ironic that the Government is happy to tell pregnant women and new mothers what to eat but won’t extend paid parental leave to support breastfeeding for six months – an important tool in reducing childhood obesity, Labour’s spokesperson for Women Sue Moroney says.

“According to the World Health Organisation, there is a ‘mounting body of evidence’ showing breastfeeding plays a role in protecting children against obesity. 

“The United Nation’s public health arm also states that breastfeeding is an ‘important component of strategies to reduce the risk of overweight and obesity in children’.

“Health Minister Jonathan Coleman cites research on getting eating patterns right early in life, but ignores evidence of the importance of bonding, attachment and breastfeeding in the first six months of life.

“Ask any working mother and they will tell you how difficult it is to continue breastfeeding when they are forced to return to work. Many have to give up because it is so hard to have regular contact with their babies throughout the day and keep up their milk supply.

“Jonathan Coleman’s denial today in Parliament that extending paid parental leave would help mums breastfeed to 26 weeks shows how out of touch he is with the realities faced by New Zealand families who are trying to do the best for their children.

“If National was serious about fighting obesity, they would support my Member’s Bill to extend paid parental leave to six months,” Sue Moroney says.