has hundreds of baby foods and beverages in our database. Throughout the years, we’ve been fairly vocal about the quality of many of the products available for babies and have recently published our own Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide. We’ve always felt that the healthiest food choices early in life get the newest humans off to the best start as healthy individuals. Today we found a study that may have major implications for the feeding of babies.

An animal study out of the University of Buffalo has shown a link between the consumption of foods high in carbohydrates immediately after birth to weight gain and obesity throughout life. Even when caloric intake is restricted in adulthood, that adult has been predisposed to these conditions.

The researchers fed newborn rat pups milk formulas they developed that were similar to rat milk, but enriched with carbohydrate calories. The pups who were fed the high-carbohydrate milk formula were receiving a different form of nourishment than they normally would from nursing. These pups were weaned onto regular rat chow at the age of three weeks. Some were given free access to food and some were kept on a moderately calorie restricted diet. The rats who had been fed the high-carbohydrate formula who had their food intake restricted grew at a rate similar to that of pups fed by their mothers. The researchers were curious however, if that period of moderate calorie restriction caused the animals to be reprogrammed and what would occur once the animals were allowed to eat without any restriction.

It appears that the rats fed the high-carbohydrate formula do actually go through a metabolic reprogramming that can only be suppressed, not erased. When the rats were given the opportunity to eat more, they did. The effects of the high-carbohydrate formula were not permanently altered by the period of time the rats were kept on a moderate-calorie diet.

This research has implications for the obesity epidemic in the United States and speaks directly to the issue of infant nutrition. Many of the baby foods and juices available in grocery stores are high in carbohydrates. The researchers noted that the introduction of baby foods too early in life increase carbohydrate intake causing metabolic programming that predisposes children to obesity. Babies can be “programmed” to overeat at adults. The conclusion is that addressing obesity requires more than dieting – it actually requires a permanent lifestyle change. As long as calories are restricted, people can maintain a normal weight, but due to metabolic programming, their calorie consumption needs to remain restricted on a permanent basis – not simply for the length of time of a prescribed diet.

This fascinating study reminds us all that good nutrition begins at birth and that parents need to be just as concerned about the foods they are feeding their infants as they are of the foods being consumed by their toddlers and older children. is happy to see the current advice regarding solid foods beginning between the ages of 4 – 6 months being confirmed and reinforced. There are so many good reasons to follow that advice, and this research just added to the information we’ve already had regarding food allergies and intolerances. And once solid foods are started, stay vigilant regarding ingredients and the effects they can have on children everywhere. Take a look at the Baby & Toddler Nutrition Guide to find out which foods and beverages available for babies will help give them the healthiest beginning in life.

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