In recent health news, a new link has been discovered connecting certain types of infant formula with childhood obesity.Â Researchers have found children who are fed with enriched formula milk are more likely to be obese by the age of five.
Specifically the researchers found a connection that suggests that weight gain during infancy is carried over into childhood.Â Essentially, faster weight gain during infancy is linked to childhood obesity which the study authors noted may ultimately lead to a shorter lifespan.
Study:Â Bottle-Fed Infants and Obesity:
The results of two prospective randomized trials were recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Singhal et al, 2010).Â Previous research had demonstrated the connection between over nutrition in infancy and being overweight later in life, but this is the first study to demonstrate this connection in humans.
Though both studies used different means to measure fat mass, they both found that nutrient enriched formula lead to greater gains in fat mass than the control formula.Â The results of these two studies found that infants who were fed enriched formula had 18-38% greater fat mass in childhood.
Not surprisingly, there’s a connection between increased fat mass in childhood and a greater risk of obesity later on in life.
Professor Atul Singhal, from the MRC Childhood Nutrition Research Centre, was quote as saying:
It raises the issue about the best way to feed those children small for gestational age, which should now be evaluated in the light of all current evidence. In public health terms, it supports the case in the general population for breastfeeding – since it is harder to overfeed a breastfed baby. And it will undoubtedly be of interest to formula milk companies wishing to improve their products
With the escalating rates of obesity in developed nations, this research highlights the importance of targeting infancy in the war against obesity.Â Not only is breastfeeding a potentially better option in the prevention of childhood obesity, but there are numerous other health benefits:
- cost savings
- bonding with your child
- disease-fighting antibodies
- perfect nutritional balance
- lower risk of type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers in mothers who breastfeed
- Singhal A, Kennedy K, Lanigan J, Fewtrell M, Cole TJ, Stephenson T, Elias-Jones A, Weaver LT, Ibhanesebhor S, Macdonald PD, Bindels J, Lucas A. Nutrition in infancy and long-term risk of obesity: evidence from 2 randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Sep 29.