Study links early solid food start in formula-fed infants with obesity

Researchers have found a link in formula fed infants between starting solid foods before four months of age and obesity, according to a study published this week in the medical journal Pediatrics.

Although 75% of new mothers initially breastfeed their children, only a third are still breastfeeding at the three-month mark. Infants who were exclusively breast-fed did not exhibit the same rates of obesity, but infants who were fed formula displayed a sixfold rise in obesity when solids were introduced before the baby reached four months. An author of the study says these findings bolster the AAP’s suggestion that solids be introduced after that point:

“Our study results suggest that adhering to the current American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines of waiting till 4 months to introduce solids has the potential to reduce the risk of obesity later on,” explained study author Dr. Susanna Y. Huh, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Children’s Hospital Boston.

The study was part of a larger study of infants and their mothers called Project Viva. At the conclusion of this portion of the study, 7% of the 847 infants studied who were breastfed were found to be obese, and 13% of the formula-fed babies were over the 95th percentile for infant weight.