Feeding solid foods to infants may affect their overall health

Feeding solid foods to infants may affect their overall health

A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine states that the current guides for feeding solid foods can affect the overall health of an infant. These guides can result in overfeeding of the infants. That may further lead to overweight or obese infants.

Current feeding guides for infants can lead to unhealthy weight gain

An infant’s weight has an impact on his/her weight in childhood and adult-age further affecting various health conditions. As infancy plays a crucial role in managing weight, it is essential to ensure that infant feeding guides should not lead to an unhealthy weight gain.

The guides advise caregivers about when and how to add solid food to an infants’ diet. And may differ for portion and timing. In this study, the research team fed certain diets to computer-simulated infants.

The team has daily recorded their growth, activity levels, body size, and metabolic rates from age 6 – 12 months. Then they studied the overall effects of the solid foods’ guides on the health of the infants.

The results of the study have shown how trying four different feeding guides from age 6 – 12 months can result in overfed, overweight, or obese infants. Overfeeding in an infant makes it difficult for him/her to maintain a healthy weight with advancing age.

The team used computer simulation models because testing the effect of these feeding guides on real infants involves ethical issues. Also, it can lead to over or underfeeding of the infants involved in the trials.

To validate these infants’ models, the research team fed these virtual infants acc. to infant’s energy needs in a standard guide. The results showed that the growth of these infant models was in line with WHO growth curves.

Testing different solid food feeding guides on computer simulated infant models

The team fed these virtual infants with age 6 – 12 months according to different guides. The guides included were the ones from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Similac, Enfamil, and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

For each of these guides, the research team led four simulations. Among 1000 modeled infants, each assumed breast milk intake and intake of solid food as given in the guide.

It also included a different rule about adjusting solid food portions by the caregiver. The results of the study showed that using each of these four guides only for a few months can lead the BMI of these infants to an overweight category.

According to WHO growth curves, BMIs that lie above 85th percentile are from the overweight category. These results were also present in the case where portions of solid foods were 25% of the guide’s suggested range.

Also read- Genetic Factors Do Not Affect Food Responses- Research Shows

On the contrary, the Similac guide produced the best results among all food feeding guides. In the most positive case, the Similac guide didn’t cause infants to move into the overweight category while keeping the feeding portions to 25%.

These results were present until the age of 11 months for boys and 10 months for girls. After some time, the team ran simulations supposing the breast milk portion as halved. Even in this case, all guides but Similac were leading to overweight BMIs in age between 9 – 11 months.

All of these findings suggested that current guidelines for feeding solid foods may affect the overall health of the infants. Also, the evidence on the current guides for solid foods isn’t enough and requires more research.


The author is a Medical Microbiologist and healthcare writer. She is a post-graduate of Medical Microbiology and Immunology. She covers all content on health and wellness including weight loss, nutrition, and general health. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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