High-Carb diet immediately after birth can predispose children to obesity

Consuming foods high in carbohydrates immediately after birth can set babies up for a predisposition to weight gain, according to a new study at the University at Buffalo.

The animal study found that even if calories were restricted during adulthood, children who consumed carb-rich foods during a period of early infancy had an increased risk for obesity and metabolic problems later on in life.

Baby foods to blame?

Researchers note that the nutritional profile of many infant formulas may be to blame.

"Many American baby foods and juices are high in carbohydrates, mainly simple sugars," said Mulchand S. Patel, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biochemistry and associate dean for research and biomedical education in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Using rats, researchers fed pups either a high-carb milk formula or one that was higher in fat-derived calories. The pups that drank the former were shown to be programmed to eat more food later in life, which researchers say has to to with nutritional programming that happens in the immediate postnatal period.

Dieting as an adult to offset this problem, the study authors say, won't help.

"During this critical period, the hypothalamus, which regulates appetite, becomes programmed to drive the individual to eat more food," Patel explained. "We found that a period of moderate caloric restriction later in life cannot reverse this programming effect."

Avoid risks with proper nutrition

While the implications for the study aren't entirely clear for humans, Patel says that metabolic reprogramming that predisposes a baby to obesity can be avoided with the right diet. He recommends that parents follow the American Academy of Pediatric guidelines, which suggest that a baby should not eat solid foods until 4-6 months after birth.

For obese adults with the metabolic disadvantages, reducing calories permanently is the best way to stay healthy.

"As long as you restrict intake, you can maintain normal body weight," Patel said.

Source: Science Daily

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