July 11, 2011

Prolonged bottle feeding increases obesity risk

Children who continue to receive their milk or other drinks in a baby feeding bottle or who are put to bed with the bottle up to age 2 years, are at increased risk of being obese at age 5.5 years. This was the finding of a recent study  published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

The study sample consisted of 6750 children born in 2001, from the US Early Childhood Longitudinal Birth Cohort. Parents were asked when their child was 24 months whether the child primarily drank from a bottle, training cup or regular cup and whether the child was usually put to bed with a bottle. If the child primarily drank from a bottle or was put to bed with the bottle the child was considered a prolonged bottle user. At age 5.5 years the child's weight and height were measured and BMI calculated. Information was also obtained on the family's  socioeconomic status (SES), mother's health, obesity associated behaviours and child's weight history.

At age 5.5 years, 17.6% of the children were obese ( BMI for age > or = 95th percentile) and 22.3% were bottle users at 24 months. Of the children who were still using the bottle at 2 years nearly 23% were obese compared to 16% in the children who were not using the bottle. Even after controlling for variables such as SES, maternal smoking, breast feeding, age of introduction of solids, birth weight prolonged bottle feeding was still associated with greater risk of obesity.

Prolonged bottle feeding is commonly associated with iron deficiency anaemia and other nutritional deficiencies. This study provides a further reason, ( obesity prevention) for health professionals to continue to encourage children to be weaned off the bottle by 12 months.


Gooze RA, Anderson SE et al. Prolonged bottle use and obesity at 5.5 years of age in US children. Journal of Pediatrics  www.jpeds.com doi 10.1016/j.jped.2011.02.037





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