My sweet little baby Clementine eats like a horse, and I love it. She’ll eat anything and everything — a whole chicken breast, a half block of cheese, sometimes two bananas at one time — and I internalize it as a sign of health. However, there are some new studies out from legit, reputable sources that link a baby’s hearty appetite to future obesity.
I first read about these obesity studies, published in JAMA Pediatrics, last night. One study followed twins from age 3 months until 15 months old. The babies who showed a higher response rate to food — those who were more easily compelled to eat when seeing or smelling something good to eat — typically weighed 1.4 pounds more than their non-identical twin. Those with what researchers called a lower satiety response — who would continue to eat after “feeling full” — weighed, on average, 2 pounds more. The second experiment looked at more than 2,000 10-year-olds and found that those who were obese were also more like to have a lower satiety response. They liked to eat.
A bit confused, I looked up the articles myself. Specifically, I was interested in the “Baby Eating Behavior Questionnaire” (BEBQ) used as the basis of the research. I found this – an equally impressive study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (October 2012) that calls into question the validity and reliability of the questionnaire. Simply put, measuring the eating habits of babies is still a pretty subjective art — what I might observe as eating past the point of being full is different than what another mom might interpret. Without a physical way to measure exactly when baby is full, we are left to human judgment.
So, is Clementine at risk for obesity? Maybe. Regardless, I plan to raise her with healthy eating habits and portion control, as I will my other daughter. I cringe at the possibility that a mom out there reads the headlines and puts their baby on a diet.
Feel free to foward any other current research out there you’d like for me to look in to!
For more posts from Rebecca this month: