Helping parents nurture healthy babies

Bottle-feeding and obesity

We hear over and over again how formula-fed babies have a tendency towards obesity later on.  There are no conclusive studies on that however.  But now, there' a study that might shed some light.  Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently did a study for the June issue of the journal Pediatrics, that showed babies who are bottle-fed during their first six months---whether using formula or breast milk in the bottles--tend to be slower to learn self-regulation later in infancy.  It may not have as much to do with what's in breast milk versus what's in formula (though there are certain hormones in breastmilk that can help regulate a baby's appetite and metabolism). 

Obviously, that still points to the benfits of breastfeeding but  what's interesting is the notion that it's the act of using a bottle that may correlate to a lack of self-regulation.

The researchers measured self-regulation in babies who were 7, 9, 10 and 12 months old.  The mothers were asked how often their babies drank a whole bottle or cup of milk (formula or breastmilk)

Here's what they found::

  • 27% of babies who were exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months always or usually finished their cup of bottle.
  • 54% of babies who had been both breast- and bottle-fed did so.
  • 68% of babies who were only bottle-fed (again both breastmilk or formula) did so.

Now, there are obviously many reasons for obesity--societal, educaitonal, mother's weight, financial factors etc.  So it's impossible to nail down the exact cause.  There are simply too many variables.  But
if studies like this one bear out over time, bottle feeding is something most people can control.  For those who can't, or choose not to breastfeed, you should rest assured that you're not necessarily pre-determining your baby's chance of weight gain.  Formula is full of the same nutrients as breastmilk, and, as many studies have shown, there are several causes of obestiy that have nothing to do with breastmilk or formula.





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