This week Down Under

Baby of the family is least likely to be breastfed

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Related tags Complementary medicines Breastfeeding Southeast asia

A family’s youngest child is most likely to miss out on breastfeeding, according to an Australian study that also found that a woman’s education level and the number of children she has also affect its likelihood.

Natalie Holowko, a University of Queensland researcher, analysed data reported by more than 4,700 mothers in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health to determine relationships between socioeconomic factors, birth order and breastfeeding rates. The study has been running for 20 years and involves more than 50,000 women. 

Breastfeeding reduces a child’s risk of being overweight or obese, making it one of the first lines of defence against the emerging obesity epidemic​,” Holowko said.

She found that breastfeeding was started with 83% of newborns, though only 59% of six-month-olds were still being breastfed.

Compared to women with only high-school education, university-educated women were almost twice as likely to initiate breastfeeding or to breastfeed for the recommended six months.

Interestingly, women with a parent who had fewer than 10 years of education were about one-and-a-half times as likely to not breastfeed​,” Holowko said.

However, there was a paradox when it came to the “baby of the family​”.

We discovered that women—particularly those with a higher level of education—were less likely to breastfeed their youngest child​,” she said.

This may suggest that women are returning to work soon after reaching their desired number of children​.”

The number of children a woman had influenced breastfeeding, with firstborns more likely to be breastfed if their mothers went on to have more children.

Australian dietary guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months, and continued breastfeeding up to 12 months and beyond.

Most women start breastfeeding but many are not continuing with it​,” Holowko said.

To encourage women to start and sustain breastfeeding where possible, there needs to be more focus on removing barriers—at home, at work and in the community​.”

More stories from Down Under…

Cadbury leads all categories as chocolate consumption rises in Australia

Chocolate consumption in Australia is on the rise, according to market research that found that the proportion of Australians chocoholics has increased from 65% to 69% between 2013 and 2015.


This surge in chocolate-eating can be seen across chocolate bars, chocolate blocks and boxes of chocolate. In 2015, 52% of Australians over the age of 14 consumed chocolate bars in any month, up from 48% in 2013, 43% enjoyed chocolate blocks (up from 40%) and 19% tucked into boxed chocolates (up from 17%).

Cadbury topping the list for each of these categories. The brand’s 50g bars and pocket were found to be the most widely-consumed chocolate bar, eaten by 17% of Australians—or 3.2 million people—each month. Cadbury Dairy Milk, consumed by 12%, was far ahead other block brands, and Cadbury Favourites came first in the boxed-chocolate category with 5.0% of the market.

Most popular brands of chocolate bars, blocks and boxed chocolates
Most popular brands of chocolate bars, blocks and boxed chocolates

Whether we’re eating it for its purported brain-boosting or mood-enhancing qualities, or simply for its taste, more Australians are enjoying chocolate in an average four-week period than we were back in 2013. This​ rise in consumption can be seen across all categories, many brands and both genders,” said Andrew Price of Roy Morgan Research, which conducted the survey.

Among the brands that have benefitted from this chocolate-eating upswing, Cadbury is the obvious example: since 2013, there has been an increase in the proportions of Aussies choosing their 50g bars, Cherry Ripe, Fruit & Nut and Hazelnut blocks, and boxes of Roses. Lindt has also made inroads in the block and boxed categories; while consumption of Nestlé-owned Kit Kat is also up​.”

Mondelēz partners in Melbourne hub to drive research into SE Asian markets

The Asia-Pacific arm of Mondelēz has collaborated with Melbourne University to open a food research hub to learn about consumer behaviour in Asean markets.

SE Asia

The hub, part-funded by the Australian Research Council, will also analyse market levers and inform innovation on ingredient use, consumer experience, product design and packaging to advance Australia’s positioning as a premium supplier—seen as priority areas for developing markets.

Backers of the A$10m collaboration hope the facility will provide the country with a sustained competitive advantage while assisting the creation of more productive supply chains across the food industry. 

The “Unlocking the Food Value Chain” hub draws on research expertise from five of the university’s schools and faculties, while Mondelēz is contributing its research and marketing experience in Southeast Asia. 

Mondelēz and Melbourne University say they have committed to share research with small and medium-sized enterprises through an open innovation model to provide market intelligence, including data sourced by a proprietary intellectual property searching technique that analyses consumer-identified attributes of premium food products.

This, they say, will allow businesses to understand food innovation trends and opportunities in China, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Korea, Japan and India. 

The hub has also refined qualitative multivariate analysis, a method of comparing the marketability of new and existing products in the Asean markets. 

Frank Dunshea, director of the hub, said the collaboration had been driven by the needs of the wider food industry. 

Businesses exporting to Southeast Asia need to understand their market and how they can deliver the best possible product at competitive prices. This hub provides services which will enable Australian businesses to do so​. 

The Unlocking the Food Value Chain hub is working to help Australian businesses create products which have instant appeal for local consumers in Southeast Asian nations with technologically advanced processing and packaging​.” 

Industry body slams ‘misguided’ article on complementary medicines

A recent editorial published in the Medical Journal of Australia that attempted to dismiss the benefits of complementary medicines was “misguided”, according to the industry’s representative body.


The article, titled “Pharmacists selling CAM doesn’t wash​”, completely failed to acknowledge the growing body of research that supports natural nutrition, said Carl Gibson, chief executive of Complementary Medicines Australia.

In it, author Jane McCredie claimed that few complementary and alternative medicines were able to “provide quality evidence of efficacy​”.

CAM practitioners are fond of blaming the poor performance of their treatments in trials on what they consider to be inappropriate methodologies: randomised controlled trials just don’t suit their kind of practice they often claim​,” McCredie wrote.

She also questioned the ethics of healthcare professionals who promote “products of, at best, doubtful efficacy​”.

Responding to the article, Gibson said: “With two out of three people using complementary medicines, it will be a huge shame for Australian consumers if this type of one-sided approach influences the recognition of the very real contribution that complementary medicines can make to health, wellness and people-centred healthcare through appropriate integration into health systems.”

He said that recent reports have indicated that selected complementary medicines are both highly efficacious and cost effective, especially in the prevention and management of chronic conditions. 

Among these, he said, a 2014 Frost & Sullivan report showed robust links between several of the more well-known complementary medicines with reduced risk of a secondary disease event among high-risk groups, and with major potential healthcare cost savings.

[McCredie’s] approach negates the ability of health professionals to participate in putting the patient at the centre of care by declaring that the use of an entire practice of health management is ‘unethical’​,” he added. 

If it shows anything at all, the editorial highlights the fact that some fringe practitioners fall short of the cohesive and integrative approach that will ultimately allow consumers to access complementary medicines in an effective, safe and respectful manner​.”

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