Experts are discovering that obesity can begin even before children enter elementary school. A recent study found that bottle feeding can actually contribute to obesity in children. According to the study “the prevalence of obesity at 5.5 years was 22.9% in children who at 24 months were using a bottle and was 16.1% in children who were not.”
Breastfeeding is considered to be the best choice for children’s health on all levels. According to the American Dietetic Association:
“Breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of otitis media, gastroenteritis, respiratory illness, sudden infant death syndrome, necrotizing enterocolitis (death of intestinal tissue), obesity, and hypertension. Breastfeeding is also associated with improved maternal outcomes, including a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and postpartum depression.”
In addition, mothers who breastfeed their also reduce their risk of vascular changes associated with future cardiovascular disease compared to those mothers who do not breast feed for at least three months.
If bottle feeding is required, it should not go beyond 12 – 14 months. After that point, it is considered prolonged us and may contribute the child being overweight or obese. Children who continue to use a bottle often consume larger amounts of calories than they need. Prolonged bottle use is also suspected as a cause of both iron deficiency and “baby bottle tooth decay.” Children who are given a bottle at night are particularly liable to develop baby bottle tooth decay.
Parents are encouraged to breast feed exclusively if at all possible and only use a bottle when necessary.