Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How You Feed Your Baby: The First Step in Preventing Obesity Later in Life

Everywhere you look, there's another article about the growing rate of childhood obesity. As they say, the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree--you don't have to look far to see that obesity is not only a problem for children--it's also a big problem for their parents. But there are also overweight children who have normal weight parents who eat a healthy diet. What's going on here?

Several recent studies may offer a clue. How you feed your baby in the first months of life may set them up for being overweight later. (Babies can also be "programmed" for being overweight during pregnancy.) A recent study in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that almost a third of infants could be categorized as overweight or obese by the age of 9 months. A study in Pediatrics found that babies fed a Protein Hydrolysate formula had slower weight gains than those fed regular cow's milk formula. Study authors are not sure what caused this effect; the protein content or amino acid profile, which varied between the two formulas.

Should we be putting babies on a diet? No! But we should be looking a little closer at how we feed babies, putting more emphasis on breastfeeding and how the nutrient makeup of infant formula could program a child's future health.

For more tips on preventing childhood obesity, starting early, check out my book Baby Bites!