Bottle Feeding and Obesity

Newly published research shows the link between bottle feeding and obesity. Bottle feeding and obesity in the news from

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.

Breastfeeding is the first preventive measure againt adulthood obesity.

Research has shown that breastfeeding protects against obesity later in life.

"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."

While studies are now showing that bottle feeding may lead to obesity, breastfed babies are less likely to be overweight in adolescence.

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."

Why would bottle feeding and obesity be linked?

Mothers of bottle feeding babies are required to count the feedings and measure the amounts of formula given, and wonder if their baby has gotten enough. Breastfeeding mothers can safely think of breastfeeding as a social interaction. Just as you do not count or measure the amount of hugs and kisses you give your baby during the day, nor are you required to count breast-feedings.

In cases where mothers are required to bottle feed due to medical or other reasons bottle feeding and obesity can be prevented by following certain bottle feeding practices that strive to imitate breastfeeding.