News article

Infant feeding and activity behaviours believed to increase a child's risk for obesity later in life

Posted:  Monday, March 24, 2014

A new study report has stated that some infant feeding and activity behaviours are supposed to increase a child’s risk of becoming obese in their age. The study noted that these feeding behaviours resulting in obesity was a common practice among most parents, regardless of race or ethnicity. Black parents were more likely to report more TV watching time while the child feeds on a bottle, whereas, Hispanic parents were likely to make their children finish feeding and report less “tummy time”- - when a baby lies on its belly to play while a parent supervises.

“These results from a large population of infants - especially the high rates of television watching - teach us that we must begin obesity prevention even earlier,” said Eliana M. Perrin, MD, MPH, lead author of the study, associate professor of Pediatrics in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and UNC-Chapel Hill's associate vice chancellor for research.

Many parents exhibited behaviours that were thought to be related to obesity, but were highly prevalent in parents mothering infants. The study revealed that more than 45 percent fed their infants only formula, whereas 19 percent fed them only breast milk. Solid food was introduced by only 12 percent of the candidates. Almost 43 percent put their infants to be with bottles, 23 percent propped the bottle which could result in overfeeding. 20 percent always fed when the infant cried, and 38 percent always tried to get their children to finish their milk. Furthermore, more than 90 percent of the infants were exposed to TV and 50 percent were regular watchers as their parents were watching TV.

Infants need to be fed the right kind of food in order to supplement their growth and health.

Infants between the ages of 4-6 months should be fed, single grain (fortified) cereal as the baby needs iron after 6 months as its natural iron starts to deplete. This can be mixed with baby formula, water or breast milk. After the age of 6 months the infant needs to be given mashed or pureed foods and fruits such as banana, apple pears etc.. Yogurts, proteins (fish, chicken), dark leafy vegetables and are very healthy and nutritious for the baby.

Due to the lack of healthy eating and activity, children tend to become obese later in life. Those children who are predominantly inactive, i.e. spending more than 4 hours in front of the television or playing video games.

Another study noted that, dietary patterns established in the first year of the child, are relatively harder to change. As this is a critical period in a child’s life where they develop their tastes in food.

Parents don’t realise that feeding children unhealthy food, is prepping their child’s taste buds for certain foods for the rest of their lives. Infants who are fed only formula don’t get the adequate nutrition to build a healthy immune system.