Article at a Glance
• Starting formula-fed babies on solid foods before 4 months can increase their risk for obesity.
• Breastfeeding decreases your baby’s risk for obesity.
With childhood obesity becoming an increasing concern, many researchers are working to find out what factors contribute to the problem.
A recent study by researchers at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard shed some light on the issue. They found that breastfeeding and delaying the introduction of solid foods could reduce the risk of obesity.
The study found that formula-fed babies who were introduced to solid foods before they were 4 months old were 6 times as likely to become obese at 3 years old than formula-fed babies who weren’t introduced to solid foods until they were between 4 and 5 months old.
Babies who were breastfed showed no increased risk of obesity in spite of when they were introduced to solids. The study also showed that only 7 percent of breastfed babies were obese at 3 years old, whereas 13 percent of formula-fed babies were.
Researchers are unsure why breastfeeding leads to a lower risk of obesity, but speculate that breastfeeding might help teach babies how to self-regulate their energy intake. Mothers who breastfeed are also more likely to stop nursing when their babies act full instead of encouraging them to drink the entire bottle.