Is The Risk Of Obesity Higher With Infant Formula?


Childhood obesity can lead to serious health problems during adulthood. Several factors may contribute to childhood obesity such as diet, genetics, and physical activity. It is important to pay attention to what you feed your child, how often they eat, and the amount of exercise they get on a daily basis. A well-rounded diet is the best way to ensure a healthy weight and this diet starts at birth. Many people assume that formula-fed infants will always gain more weight than breastfed infants. While both breast milk and infant formula contain a high concentration of calories, the risk of obesity is generally the same. Let’s look a bit closer at the issue to create a more comprehensive understanding of infant formula and childhood obesity. 

Does Infant Formula Increase The Risk of Obesity?

There are some studies that show formula-fed infants have a higher risk of becoming obese than breastfed infants. This has a lot to do with the amount of formula provided each day, and also the ingredients in the infant formula. Many infant formulas in the US are full of fattening fillers such as corn syrup and processed sugar. European infant formula, on the other hand, is devoid of fillers and only uses minimal amounts of sugar, that too in baby-friendly form. 

The more formula a child consumes the higher chance they have of becoming obese. All infant formula from the US and Europe comes with feeding guidelines. Parents who feed their children in excess of these guidelines place their children in the category of becoming an obesity risk. It is much harder to overfeed a child when breastfeeding. This is mainly due to how much the body produces and the method of delivery. There are also enzymes that are only in breast milk that help regulate infant appetites. 

Should I Avoid Infant Formula To Prevent Childhood Obesity?

Breastfeeding does reduce the chance of childhood obesity, however, that doesn’t mean that infant formula should be avoided. It is important to be mindful of your feeding habits and always follow a proper feeding schedule. In addition, pay attention to the signals your child gives off when they are eating. Sometimes they may be full without completing a whole bottle. Instead of forcing them to finish, consider reducing the number or amount of bottles you feed your child each day. Every baby is different, and some may have bigger appetites than others, at the same time, some infants may require less to be sustained. 

For parents who are breastfeeding and supplementing with infant formula, it is also important to pay attention to portions. Studies show that infants fed a mixed diet of infant formula and breast milk as just as prone to obesity as those that are exclusively formula-fed. 

Choose The Right Infant Formula

The infant formula you choose for your child will also play a big role in their future health. Some infant formulas are loaded with fillers, high-fructose corn syrup, and heavy table sugars. These types of infant formulas will make a child stay full longer, but will also contribute to their risk of developing childhood obesity. In addition, the more fillers an infant formula has, the fewer nutrients there will be for proper development. 

European infant formulas are created to a higher standard. Not only are the regulations in the EU much stricter than in the US, but the ingredients are also much healthier. Most, if not all European infant formula brands use ingredients that come from biodynamic farms. A great majority of these brands also offer organic European infant formula lines. These measures ensure that your child will get the best chance at a healthy start without having to worry about unhealthy ingredients in their formula. 

European infant formulas also offer a rich selection of added vitamins and minerals. DHA, probiotics, and prebiotics are just a few standard additives you will find in all EU infant formulas. Most will also include added iron and other vitamins to support healthy bone, eye, and muscle development. There are even specialty lines formulated with infants who have allergies, colic, or other digestive concerns. No matter what your family needs, there is a European infant formula that will fill the gap. 

Reducing The Risk of Obesity in Infants

There are even specialty lines formulated with infants who have allergies, colic, or other digestive concerns. Choosing a healthy infant formula such as those from HiPP, Nanny Care, and Kabrita is another. Healthy eating habits start from birth and will continue through childhood and adolescence. 

Keep in mind that feeding your child breast milk won’t guarantee that they don’t become overweight later. Also, feeding your child infant formula also doesn’t mean they will automatically become obese as they grow older. It is important to create a healthy balance between portion control and healthy feeding options. 

Monitoring Your Infants Feeding Habits

As we mentioned earlier it is important to pay attention to your infant's feeding cues. When breastfeeding it is easy to understand when a child is hungry and when they are full. The body handles most of this for you automatically. When bottle-feeding or supplementing with infant formula, pay close attention to signs that your baby is full and signs that they may still be hungry. When your infant becomes less interested in their bottle, stop feeding them as opposed to forcing them to complete their bottle. 

Pacing during bottle feeding is also important. Make sure to hold your baby in an upright position to help stimulate their natural rooting reflex. This will allow your infant to better control and guide their feeding as opposed to a forced quantity style of feeding that can easily lead to obesity. Use the right size bottle for your infant's age, extra-large bottles in early infancy can contribute to obesity, while overly small bottles for older children may lead to lower body weights and constant hunger. For more information on infant feeding or details about your child’s specific needs, make sure to consult with their pediatrician.

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