Too many of us are 'over-feeding' our babies, according to experts
A UK report suggested last year that three-quarters of UK babies and toddlers may be eating more calories than they should.
This, experts fear, could lead to a life-time of over-eating and ultimately contribute to the massive obesity and childhood obesity crisis we have on our hands.
Now according to Public Health England, it's time to tackle over-eating from birth to make sure children get the best start in life, a move that came as government advisers published guidance - for the first in more than 20 years - on feeding babies.
That report that suggested that three-quarters of UK babies and toddlers are over-fed also claims that the same proportion weighed more than the ideal weight for their age, when plotted on growth charts.
The problem? We now know that people who are overweight as children are more likely to be overweight as adults, and now nearly a quarter of children in England are obese or overweight at four to five years old, numbers that are worrying, and not too dissimilar here in Ireland either.
In the UK, part of the next phase of the government's plan to tackle childhood obesity includes examining whether baby food is healthy enough and whether it contains too much sugar.
The infant feeding guidelines from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommend:
- Babies should be exclusively breastfed for around the first six months of life
- Solid foods can be introduced at around six months
- Cows' milk should not be given until 12 months
- Avoid high sugar or high salt foods
- Foods containing peanut and hens' eggs can be introduced at six months because delaying this might increase the risk of food allergy (but seek advice if there is a strong family history of food allergy)
Prof Mary Fewtrell, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said they noted the concerns raised and said the prevalence of overfeeding and overweight infants should be monitored and addressed.
Prof Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at PHE, said "exclusive breastfeeding until six months of age and not introducing solid foods until around this time" would help avoid infants becoming "too heavy".
"Further consideration is needed on ways to monitor overfeeding and overweight prevalence in infants, to help give them the best start in life," Dr Levy said.