Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Now that I have the time on my hands...

...thank you very much New Mexico Communications, former employer, here's an actual post for you.

Over at Feministe Zuzu linked to an article about some British scientists working to create an infant formula that might decrease the possibility of obesity later in life. The idea is to add a hormone called leptin to formula, which is already present in breastmilk. Now I'll all for making formula more like breastmilk, and I'm all for the improvements to our lives that could be made through science.

But the idea that we should fight obesity with baby formula is beyond ridiculous. As Zuzu points out the fat-shaming is evident, but this also demonstrates the mother-shaming that's out of control in our culture. As Zuzu points out, if it's so important to fight obesity, and the leptin in breastmilk is supposed to help, why not make it easier to breastfeed? Well, because no one makes a profit on breastfeeding.

And as a later commenter mentions:
Oh, and I did breastfeed my two boys but I can’t imagine that giving them one or even two years of breastmilk (or of super-duper-fat-fighting-formula) is going to protect them from obesity as they wash down their spider man fruit snacks with their spider man faux-juice boxes….
If fighting childhood obesity is *so* important, why not regulate the hell out of those "food" companies that market to children? Or maybe fund healthy school lunch programs that don't involve any participation from Coke or Pepsi? Oh, because people make a profit off of that corporate-logo emblazoned crap.

It seems the magic anti-fat formula somehow manages to combine the anxieties of our consumerist culture on the one hand and the holier-than-thou, ubernatural parents on the other. If something impure crosses the baby's lips, poor thing will be surely doomed to a life of obesity and illness -- so I better solve this problem by purchasing a new product!

I don't understand how something a person eats for a year of their lives is supposed to protect them from obesity for a lifetime. I've not seen compelling data that demonstrated, while controlling for other factors, that whether you nurse or give formula makes that huge of a difference in the life of your baby. It seems unlikely that breastfeeding (or the magic fat-repelling formula) will create a magical forcefield that will keep diabetes at bay when it's often literally impossible to find healthy, affordable food. Is it because mothers have less influence over what adults or even teens eat? Is it because our society loves to make mothers so crazy over things they "need" to give their babies? In my opnion, yes.

Dr. Spock, take me away!

**added** Oh, and Zuzu mentioned that she didn't want her thread to devolve into a war over whether or not formula feeding is inherently inferior to breastfeeding. I, however, have no such qualms. So feel free.

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