FoodFacts.com is continually seeking out any new information available regarding the worldwide obesity epidemic, how it affects our population, what its causes are and what we can do about it. This tremendous problem has touched so many lives negatively, instigating chronic disease and death and it continues to grow even more out of control each day.
Today we found interesting new information coming out of Brigham Young University that suggests we need to be careful about how we’re feeding our babies. Researchers discovered that clinical obesity at 2 years old strongly traces back to infant feeding.
BYU researchers analyzed data from over 8,000 families and found that babies who were formula fed were over twice as likely to become obese toddlers than those babies who were breastfed for the first six months. But the study went further than that and proceeded to define infant feeding patterns that seem to promote childhood obesity.
Babies who were put to bed with a bottle were at a 36% higher risk of childhood obesity than those who were not. The introduction of solid foods prior to the age of four months increased a child’s risk of obesity by 40 percent.
Habits like putting baby to bed with a bottle develop a habit for a child of needing to eat before sleep. It’s the kind of habit that can discourage a child from monitoring their own hunger and being able to self-regulate. Breastfeeding would naturally encourage that self-monitoring.
Breastfeeding also prevents a parent from encouraging an infant to overeat. If a formula-fed baby is full and pulls away from the bottle and the parent encourages him to finish, the baby’s cues are being ignored. If the baby is full, there’s no need to continue feeding.
Breastfeeding rates are lowest in poor and less educated families. Sally Findley, a public health professor at Columbia University, says the new BYU study shows that infant feeding practices are the primary reason that childhood obesity hits hardest below the poverty line.
Researchers noted that more and more study results are pointing towards early childhood for the origins of obesity. This doesn’t surprise us here at FoodFacts.com. There’s plenty that’s wrong with the products in our food supply geared towards infants and young children. While there are many eating patterns established in infancy, we are introducing the smallest of our population to unreasonable amounts of salt and sugar at an incredibly young age. This is certainly influencing growing children towards making unhealthy food choices later in life. Everyone in our population needs to take note of this important study information and commit to giving babies the best possible start in life. Our Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide is designed to help parents of infants and growing children make the food choices that will help little ones along the path of healthy eating for a lifetime. Take a look at our Baby Page for more information.