Expert advice to help you maintain a healthy weight
Dissatisfied with your weight?
We're bombarded with scare stories about weight, from size zero to the obesity 'epidemic'. But a healthy weight is determined by different factors for each of us. Our expert advice is designed to help you achieve and maintain a healthy, life-enhancing weight.
Overweight or underweight?
Being the right weight has a positive effect on wellbeing but also on our health, as being the wrong weight can cause a range of medical problems.
Making the right choices when it comes to feeding new babies will help them get a good start in life.
The Department of Health recommends that, wherever possible, infants are breastfed exclusively until six months of age.
Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for newborn babies, as it provides easily digestible nutrients in the right quantities. It's also packed with antibodies and helps to establish the baby's immune system.
Babies breastfed exclusively are reported to be at less risk of stomach upsets and ear, respiratory and urinary tract infections than those who are bottle-fed formula milk. They're also less likely to become obese or experience constipation and vomiting. If there's a family history of allergies or diabetes, breastfed babies are less likely to develop these.
Breastmilk contains substances that help the development of a baby's brain, retinas, gut lining and protective sheath for the central nervous system. Breastmilk also contains hormonal factors that help the baby's growth and development. It carries digestive enzymes, too, which help to digest the nutrients in milk, helping the baby's immature digestive tract.
When not to breastfeed
Breastfeeding isn't recommended for all women. For example, those who are HIV-positive risk transmitting the disease to their baby through their milk. If you're taking any medication, you should also check with your doctor or midwife before breastfeeding.
Types of breastmilk
During the first few days after birth, the mother's breasts produce a substance called colostrum. This yellowish fluid is packed with antibodies and is rich in protein, making it ideal for newborn babies.
The colostrum soon changes and becomes thin and white (transitional milk). Then, after three or four days, the mature breastmilk starts to come through.
At each feed the breasts produce two types of milk: foremilk, produced at the beginning of a feed; and hindmilk, which has more fat, energy and essential nutrients. As babies grow, it's important they receive the hindmilk in order to meet their nutritional needs.