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Where The Obesity Epidemic Begins: The Baby Bottle

A growing number of experts are beginning to understand the true implications behind a recent World Health Organization (WHO) study that found established growth tables used to chart a baby's development may be overestimating how quickly infants should be putting on weight. In many cases, parents may be overfeeding their babies. That fact alone may explain why adults are fatter than ever, fueling the worldwide obesity epidemic.

The discrepancy stems from feeding babies formula versus breast milk based on child development growth charts and studies more than two decades old. Because formula-fed babies gained weight faster, doctors were concerned about the health of infants who drank breast milk and grew more slowly. In fact, those same charts suggested many breastfed children were failing to thrive, even after just two or three months, although breast milk provides babies with the best possible combination of nutrients.

The target weights for 2- and 3-year-olds were about 20 percent too high, according to the WHO study of some 8,000 children in six countries. For example, the outdated charts recommend a 1-year-old can weigh up to about 28 pounds, 2 pounds heavier than the true healthier weight, which is why the WHO will release new growth charts based on breast-fed babies by year's end.

Gaining weight at a normal is only one of many reasons why new mothers should breastfeed their babies:

  • Strengthens a baby's immune system.
  • Improves brain function.
  • Calms their emotions.
  • Reduces a mother's risk of cancer.
  • Helps mothers return to their pre-pregnancy weight faster.
  • Saves time and money.

For important information about providing the proper nutrition for your baby, I strongly recommend reading one of the more popular articles on my Web site: the infant formula fortification protocol.

BBC News February 4, 2005

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