Obese before 3 years old: image via findmeacure.comChildhood obesity ranged from 23 to 44 percent in 2007, depending on the state of residence. Those rates were 10 percent higher than they were in 2003. So, it is not surprising that public health and pediatricians, among others, are investigating many ways to control what has reached epidemic proportions.
A new study conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, and Children's Hospital Boston examined the association between the length of breast-feeding versus formula-feeding and the age at which an infant is first given solid foods.
Separate logistic regression models were run on 847 3-year olds studied, comparing children who were breast-fed with those who were never breast-fed or who were stopped from breast-feeding earlier than 4 months of age. The age at which each group began feeding on solid foods was the critical part of the comparison.
The study's results, published in the journal Pediatrics, indicate that the babies breast-fed for at least four months were not inclined to obesity, regardless of when they started consuming solid foods. Nine percent of the formula-fed babies, however, were obese by age three, and the odds of obesity at age three increased 6-fold if the infants started eating solid food before they were 4 months old.
In summary, the timing of the introduction of solid foods is one critical factor in avoiding early childhood obesity; introduction of solid foods should not be before four and six months of age.
The other important factor, breast-feeding, has been promoted by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association (AMA) for several years. In fact, the AMA Journal estimated that even switching formula-fed babies to breast-feeding would reduce childhood obesity by 15 to 20 percent.
USA Today, Pediatrics.
also see: Geographical Obesity Trends: Where The Fat Kids Live