Bottle-fed toddlers more at risk of obesity
Two-year-olds using bottles are more likely to be obese by nursery, a study said, raising the possibility that weaning babies from the bottle at an earlier age may help prevent excessive weight gain.
The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that toddlers who still drank from bottles at age two were one-third more likely than other children to be obese at the age of five.
While researchers said they didn't know if long-term bottle-feeding was directly to blame, they said their findings suggested that weaning babies around their first birthday could help fight weight gain.
"Prolonged bottle use was associated with obesity at 5.5 years of age," wrote study leader Rachel Gooze, a doctoral candidate in public health at Temple University.
"Avoiding this behaviour may help prevent early childhood obesity."
Pediatricians already advise parents to wean children from the bottle to toddler-friendly cups when they are about 12 to 14 months old, or even earlier -- mainly because extended bottle-feeding, especially overnight, is thought to boost the risk of cavities and may contribute to iron deficiency.
Gooze said their findings might provide an added incentive for weaning, and that it may be needed, as many two-year-olds still use bottles.
Of the 6,750 children studied, one in five was still using a bottle at the age of 24 months, either at night or all the time. And of those long-term bottle users, roughly one in five was obese at the age of five.