(NaturalNews) Research published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
has delivered another blow to the reputation of baby milk formula. It shows how consumption of the synthetic product as a baby can cause increased obesity later in childhood.
The British scientists found how body fat mass in five to eight-year-olds was between 22 and 38 percent higher in those who had been given the formula compared to breast-fed infants. Researchers speculated that the children took in more calories at an early age, which altered their metabolism.
The study was led by Atul Singhal, a professor from the University College London. He said: "This study supports the case in the general population for breastfeeding since it is harder to overfeed a breastfed baby."
One aspect the professor did not discuss involves the bacterial balance in the intestines of the infant. Important for digestion and immune function, the right blend of species also remains important in the production of short chain fatty acids which enhance insulin sensitivity. The intestinal flora, comprising more than 100 different types of organism and weighing around 1.5 kilograms, have been described as a `microbe organ`; they complete a wide range of chemical transformations crucial to the normal functioning of the liver and other organs.
While the exact mechanism is yet to be confirmed, the most serious aspect of the latest data is the suggestion that altered dietary habits in the early years can make obesity more likely throughout the rest of the individual`s life. Previous research has already found that 20 percent of adult obesity is related to over-feeding and weight gain in infancy.
Childhood obesity has progressively become a major public health concern across all developed nations. In America, the rate of overweight and obese children tripled between 1980 and 2000. Doctors have raised concerns over the impending health costs that such an obesity time-bomb may cause as this generation enters adulthood. The risk of developing diabetes, hypertension and heart disease increases with obesity. While environmental, dietary and psychological factors may play an important role, formula bottle-feeding during infancy may have a larger role than previously thought.
In any case, the study confirms the positive benefits of providing breast milk to babies
for longer periods. In Britain, 75 percent of children aged four months and older receive formula milk. Janet Fyle of the Royal College of Midwives said: "The UK needs to see breastfeeding as a normal process, and to move away from some of the outdated and negative stigma that is depressingly still attached to it."
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