What are babies made of? Research shows for some it is sugar, salt and not all things nice

September 7, 2010

Children as young as four weeks old are being fed a poor diet of biscuits, ice-cream and soft drinks, according to new Australian research.

A study published in the journal Nutrition & Dietetics found some month-old had been introduced to high fat, salt and sugar foods, despite health authorities recommending exclusive breastfeeding to six months of age.

Researcher Jane Scott and colleagues tracked 587 women from two Perth maternity hospitals through regular phone interviews for 12 months to understand how the new mothers fed their babies.

"Almost one in four mothers had introduced fruit juice, biscuits and cakes to their infants by six months of age. This is a worry because eating habits developed early in life usually continue throughout a person's lifetime - and an child is much more likely to become an overweight adult," said Associate Professor Scott, of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Flinders University, Australia.

The study found babies who were started early on solids, and also those with two or more siblings, had a greater chance of eating high fat, salt and sugar foods by their first birthday.

In a recent Australia-wide survey, up to 20 per cent of children aged two to three years were found to be overweight or obese(1), indicating that the problem of children being overweight starts early in life.

Dietitians Association of Australia spokesperson and obesity expert Professor Clare Collins said: "What newborns eat does matter. Babies need breast milk, not biscuits, ice-cream and . Parent need more support to optimise breastfeeding initiation and duration rates, and we need ways to make it easier for parents to feed their children right."

"Infants and children are dependent on adults to choose the foods that will be best for them. Both eating habits and body weight track from childhood into adulthood, so getting off to the right start is crucial.

"What happens at home has the biggest effect on what children eat, so any effort to address children being overweight and obese must start at home. Australian parents need specific, evidence-based recommendations on what food and drinks are suitable for newborn babies, similar to the guidelines which are available for older than five," said Professor Collins.

She called for better support for and promotion of breastfeeding, which she said is one of the most important factors in the long-term health of newborns.

Explore further: Kids follow unhealthy role models - parents

Related Stories

Kids follow unhealthy role models - parents

April 4, 2005

Fat teenagers rejoice, you can now blame your parents and the first five years of your life for your plumpness. New Brisbane research proves fat parents are more likely to have fat children who will grow into fat teenagers ...

Bottle feeding and obesity

March 7, 2006

Bottle-fed babies who graduate to solid food too early could be storing up weight problems for years to come.

Breast milk lowers weight, diabetes risks

September 27, 2006

Babies fed exclusively with breast milk are less likely to be overweight children than babies fed only with formula, a study of U.S. babies showed.

Obesity highest in children from lower income areas

September 15, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- School children from lower socioeconomic areas are one-and-a-half times more likely to be overweight or obese compared with children living in wealthier areas, a new study has found.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.