Last week, we looked at the physiologic stomach capacity of healthy, full-term newborns and the importance of feeding on cue for appropriate growth. A newly published research article from BMC Pediatrics (1) addresses infant, toddler, and child obesity and the early feeding programming that could be one cause of this obesity.
“Obesity is a serious public health problem with more than 200 million overweight and obese children worldwide. The prevalence of obesity among infants less than two years of age has increased by more than 60% over the last three decades, and obese infants and toddlers are at an increased risk for staying overweight into adolescence and adulthood… It is suggested that the early life period is particularly susceptible to environmental ‘programming’ effects that have been evidenced to remain present much later in life,” (1).
Research has shown that breastfeeding provides protective factors against obesity. Because feeding infants at the breast does not provide a volume of milk being consumed, it is difficult to measure. However, for families that need or choose to feed formula by the bottle, the volume consumed is a modifiable risk factor that could lessen the predisposition to becoming overweight and obese.
Many baby-boomer children were raised in the “clean your plate” era by parents or grandparents who went through the Great Depression. It is not uncommon to see bottle-feeding parents feeding their infants greater quantities of milk, not pacing the feed to allow for infant control of the feeding, and/or feeding by clock or schedule rather than by infant cues.
The authors conclude their research by saying, “we have shown that overfeeding on the first day of life is an independent risk factor for the development of overweight and obesity. Reinforcing newborn feeding guidelines to hospital personnel and new parents may be a critical component in confronting the childhood and adolescent obesity epidemic,” (1).
So I present to you a question to ponder… If the physiologic capacity of the newborn’s stomach is approximately 5-7 mL, why is the formula provided (often free) to hospitals packaged in 60 mL bottles? Just food for thought.
Kathy Parkes, MSN-Ed, RN, IBCLC, FILCA CHC
Professional Development Educator
1. Watchmaker, B. Boyd, B., and Dugas, L.R. (2020). Newborn feeding recommendations and practices increase the risk of development of overweight and obesity. BMC Pediatrics; 20: 104. Open access at: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12887-0201982-9
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Last Updated: September 2018