Study looks at solid food and childhood obesity

February 8, 2011 4:08:33 AM PST
One out of every five children under age twelve in the United States is obese.

Numbers have tripled over the last 30 years, and the reasons are multiple, accoridn to experts. But two new studies look at possible factors that may influence a child's weight.

The first, from the Children's Hospital of Boston, finds that starting a bottle-fed baby on solid foods too early can increase their risk of becoming obese by 3 years old.

"If you introduce solid foods before 4 months, your kid has six times more risk of obesity at age 3," said Dr. Ellen Rome, from the Cleveland Clinic.

The findings are only true for babies who were bottle-fed. Amongst the breastfed babies, there was no association between the timing of solid food introduction.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents wait until babies are between 4 and 6 months old before introducing solid food.

"So, if you can just breastfeed alone, or bottle feed alone until 4 to 6 months of age, you decrease your kid's risk of obesity," Dr. Rome said.

A second study found a link between childhood obesity and mothers who work.

Researchers from Cornell University looked at about 1,000 grade-school children and found a slight connection between a child's weight and his or her mother's years on the job.

The study also found that for every 5 months a mother works, a 3rd grade child's weight increases by nearly one pound.

While it's believed that eating and sleeping habits of children with working mothers could be the reason, some women disagree.

"My work benefits my child, it's the lifestyle I've chosen," working mom Corinne Gregory said.

The study did not take into consideration a working father's influence.