Want to keep your toddler at a healthy weight? Take away her bottle. Babies who are still bottle-fed at age two are much more likely to become obese, says a new study in the Journal of Pediatrics.
Nearly 23 percent of children still drinking mainly from a bottle or who were put to bed with a bottle at age two were obese by the time they were five and a half years old, said researchers the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University and The Ohio State University College of Public Health. Only 16 percent of non-bottle drinker became obese by that age.
Researchers analyzed data from 6,750 children involved in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort, a large national study of children born in 2001.
“Children who were still using a bottle at 24 months were approximately 30 percent more likely to be obese at 5.5 years, even after accounting for other factors such as the mother’s weight, the child’s birth weight, and feeding practices during infancy,” said researcher Dr. Robert Whitaker.
Bottle drinkers are more likely to become obese because bottles encourage them to take in extra calories, said researchers. A child put to bed with an eight-ounce bottle of whole milk will get 12 percent of her daily caloric needs from it.
For older children, the bottle is probably used for comfort and convenience rather than nourishment, said study lead author Rachel Gooze.
Researchers recommend that parents wean children from bottles by the age of one to reduce the risk of childhood obesity.