Bottle feeding and obesity

Mar 07, 2006

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

A new study of babies' feeding habits suggests that in families who do not follow guidelines on weaning, the children may turn out to be heavier than expected by the age of five, and so may be at increased risk of obesity as they got older.

The research from the Children of the 90s study, based at the University of Bristol, suggests that the relationship between energy intake (in calories) and weight gain appears to be much stronger during infancy than in older children.

The fastest growing infants were those who had been fed formula-milk, rather than breast milk, and who were weaned onto solid foods at an early age, before 3 to 4 months old.

Dr Pauline Emmett, the study's senior nutritionist and a dietitian, says "It seems that breastfed infants are better able to regulate their energy intake than formula-fed infants.

"It could be because parents feeding formula milk make sure that the baby finishes the bottle and do not necessarily reduce the quantity offered once weaning is established.

"While there are obvious benefits in avoiding poor growth rates, excessive weight gain during infancy is also a problem as it may lead to increased risk of overweight or obesity in later life. Other studies have shown that greater dietary intakes during early infancy may have long-term effects on health and obesity."

The report's lead author Dr Ken Ong, from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit and the University of Cambridge, says "There is a growing awareness through studies such as Children of the 90s that some infants may be fed excessively and develop a higher risk for overweight or obesity when they are older.

"Future studies are needed if we are to identify such infants. Until then it is best to follow the current Department of Health and WHO guidelines, which recommend the promotion of breast feeding and introduction of weaning foods at around 6 months of age".

Dr Emmett says that by the age of 4 months, 75 per cent of babies in Britain are drinking formula rather than breast milk.

"It could be that more advice should be made available about weaning, tailored to the particular needs of formula-fed infants.

"In the push to persuade mothers to breast feed, which of course is the first objective, perhaps we have neglected to provide adequate information to formula feeders."

Source: University of Bristol

Explore further: Aboriginal people – how to misunderstand their science

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hot flashes? Thank evolution

Jul 29, 2013

A study of mortality and fertility patterns among seven species of wild apes and monkeys and their relatives, compared with similar data from hunter-gatherer humans, shows that menopause sets humans apart from other primates.

Is 'breast only' for first 6 months best?

Jan 13, 2011

Current guidance advising mothers in the UK to exclusively breast feed for the first six months of their baby's life is being questioned by child health experts in the British Medical Journal today.

Bacteria help infants digest milk more effectively than adults

Nov 22, 2010

Infants are more efficient at digesting and utilizing nutritional components of milk than adults due to a difference in the strains of bacteria that dominate their digestive tracts. Researchers from the University of California, ...

Recommended for you

Aboriginal people – how to misunderstand their science

14 minutes ago

Just one generation ago Australian schoolkids were taught that Aboriginal people couldn't count beyond five, wandered the desert scavenging for food, had no civilisation, couldn't navigate and peacefully ...

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

4 hours ago

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Apr 19, 2014

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...

Atom probe assisted dating of oldest piece of earth

(Phys.org) —It's a scientific axiom: big claims require extra-solid evidence. So there were skeptics in 2001 when University of Wisconsin-Madison geoscience professor John Valley dated an ancient crystal ...

ISEE-3 comes to visit Earth

(Phys.org) —It launched in 1978. It was the first satellite to study the constant flow of solar wind streaming toward Earth from a stable orbit point between our planet and the sun known as the Lagrangian ...