Friday, June 21, 2013

In love with fat babies?

Yet another study demonstrating the perfectly obvious. Excessive weight gain in infancy is linked to inappropriate weight gain in adulthood and to all the various co-morbidities suffered by the overweight and obese. Despite the fact that a fat baby is headed for a lifetime of being overweight and unhealthy, some cultures still set great store by having an overly-large infant. That means the new parents of China and India are well placed to see their fondness for infant chubbiness translated into later problems. When exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months is directly linked to leaner, healthier adults, the rise and rise of infant formula as the preferred form of early infant nutrition in those regions means absolute certainty of increased health problems down the track. 

Where are the regulators who have the power to curtail the sale of infant formula (at least in the first six months of life)? Don’t ask - maybe they’re held in thrall by the infant formula manufacturers. China may even make matters worse by cleaning up their local milk production and setting more stringent standards for the manufacturers of infant formula. While the regulatory moves are positive from the consumer's point of view (no more melamine scandals), they could also be seen as tacit endorsement of formula feeding.  Only one country so far has moved in the right direction. In South Africa, infant formula is now only available on prescription. 

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