Childhood Obesity Starts At Infancy: Better Infant Feeding Practices Could Help [Study]

Dusten Carlson - Author

Jun. 15 2013, Updated 9:08 p.m. ET

Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in the US, and many health researchers are probing the issue in an attempt to better understand the causes, the ultimate goal being one of prevention. A new study into the subject of obesity prevention shows that a mother’s obligation in the matter is greater than previously thought, and that infant feeding practices can go a long way toward ameliorating the epidemic.

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Currently, researchers understand that childhood obesity occurs in 20 percent of children before they enter kindergarten. Treatment of childhood obesity is not easy, and prevention is the best method of heading off the epidemic. The problem is that very little is known about effective methods using anticipatory guidance to aid in obesity prevention in pediatric care. A new study published in the August 2012 issue of Pediatrics provides a comparison of two different approaches using anticipatory guidance to improve infant feeding during a child’s first year of life. In the intervention groups, the study showed positive specific feeding behavior differences as soon as one year.

Researchers conducted a randomized trial with a total of 292 mother and infant pairs. During the first well-child visit to three urban pediatric clinics in Columbus, Ohio, intervention advice and printed material were given at each visit. Surveys about eating habits and infant feeding practices in addition to infant weights and lengths were taken from the baseline to 12 months.

Researchers found that specific interventions aided in childhood obesity prevention, and that specific recommendations added to well-child care. The study concludes that these interventions have an affect on infant feeding practices of mothers and that given the inexpensive approach, more research into the matter in encouraged.

“Having a newborn may be a ‘teachable moment’ for a mother, allowing her to change her own life-style habits for the sake of improved health of her child,” concluded the researchers, adding, “Such studies of specific content and style could provide a ‘brighter future’ for

anticipatory guidance.”


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