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Bottle Use Linked to Obesity in Children
By Alejandro Adrian LeMon, PhD News Editor
on May 10, 2011
The perfect storm of prolonged bottle use, calories and non-nutritional behavior can result in obesity in American toddlers, according to a study published in this month’s Journal of Pediatrics.
A new study in The Journal of Pediatrics, “Prolonged Bottle Use and Obesity at 5.5 Years of Age in US Children”, found that children who were using a bottle as their primary source of drinks or were put to bed with one at the age of 2 were 33 percent more likely to be obese at 5.5 years.
Researchers examined approximately 6750 children born in 2001 in an Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. The findings showed that 22 percent were exposed to prolonged bottle at 24 months. Of this same group, 23 percent were found to be obese at the ages of five and a half in comparison with 16% of the same age group with less exposure to bottle use.
The results of the study confirm that bottle use beyond infancy can contribute to obesity by encouraging the child to consume extra calories. In addition, prolonged drinking from a bottle is believed to be a probable cause or iron deficiency and childhood cavities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has already suggested that parents give toddlers only water from the bottle before bedtime to prevent childhood caries.
Rachel A. Gooze, MPH, Lead author of this study, said, “This study was not about how children were fed as infants.”
“Older children who drink from a bottle may be consuming excess calories if it’s not about the bottle as food or nourishment, but rather comfort or convenience.”
Gooze confirmed that the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is also making recommendations to reduce bottle use to prevent caries and promote better dental health in children.
“We wanted to acknowledge that stopping the bottle at one year isn’t easy,” said Gooze. “We thought it might be helpful for parents to think of moving from the bottle to cup sooner as a developmental milestone to be celebrated.”
Giving up the beloved bottle its no easy task for a toddler, Gooze admits. “It’s like learning to walk,” she said. “It may be challenging at first, but we still encourage it.”
The researchers agree that parents may not have realized it could be this tricky. This factor gives pediatricians and parents an opportunity to discuss this issue well before the child’s first birthday.
“Advising parents to avoid using the bottle after the child’s first birthday is unlikely to cause harm and may prevent obesity along with other health problems,” Gooze concluded.