Leptin as a Breast Milk Component for the Prevention of Obesity

Nutr Rev. 2018 Dec 1;76(12):875-892. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuy046.


Leptin ingested as a component of breast milk is increasingly recognized to play a role in the postnatal programming of a healthy phenotype in adulthood. Besides its primary function in controlling body weight, leptin may be an essential nutrient required during lactation to ensure that the system controlling fat accumulation and body composition is well organized from the early stages of development. This review delves into the following topics: (1) the imprinted protective function of adequate leptin intake during lactation in future metabolic health; (2) the consequences of a lack of leptin intake or of alterations in leptin levels; and (3) the mechanisms described for the effects of leptin on postnatal programming. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of breastfeeding and the need to establish optimal or reference intake values for leptin during lactation to design patterns of personalized nutrition from early childhood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Body Composition / drug effects*
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Child
  • Diet
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation / metabolism
  • Leptin / metabolism
  • Leptin / pharmacology
  • Leptin / therapeutic use*
  • Milk, Human / metabolism*
  • Obesity / prevention & control*


  • Leptin