New York: If you do not want your baby to grow up into an overweight adult, make sure you feed him or her healthy diet from the very first year, a study suggests.
Babies who eat diets high in sugar, fat, protein and dairy products show faster gain in body mass index scores from ages six to 12 months, the findings showed.
“Dietary patterns are harder to change later if you ignore the first year, a critical period for the development of taste preferences and the establishment of eating habits,” said lead author Xiaozhong Wen, assistant professor at University at Buffalo in the US.
The researchers also found that babies whose diets consisted mainly of high fat/sugar/protein foods were associated with slower gain in length-for-age scores from six to 12 months.
Some of the unhealthy “adult foods” consumed by six- and 12-month-old babies in the study included items inappropriate for infants, such as candy, ice cream, sweet drinks and French fries.
“There is substantial research to suggest that if you consistently offer foods with a particular taste to infants, they will show a preference for these foods later in life,” Wen pointed out.
“So if you tend to offer healthy foods, even those with a somewhat bitter taste to infants, such as pureed vegetables, they will develop a liking for them,” he added.
But if you always offer sweet or fatty foods, infants will develop a stronger preference for them or even an addiction to them, Wen stressed.
The researchers based their analysis on a subsample covering more than 1,500 infants from the Infant Feeding Practices Study II conducted from 2005 to 2007.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.