Should Your Baby Be on a Diet?

By Jenn Savedge, MNN

Should a baby be put on a diet? A new study seems to think so. In fact, ateam of U.S. doctors has urged that obesity screening start in the cradle after a study showed that half of U.S. children with weight problems became overweight before age 2.

According to the study, published in the journalClinical Pediatrics, the “critical period for preventing childhood obesity” is “the first two years of life and for many by 3 months of age.”

How did the researchers come to these conclusions? Theylooked at 480 medical records for patients between the ages of 2 and 20 at two medical practices in Virginia. The intent of the study was topinpoint the “tipping point” for weight issues in children. According to the study, the median age for when the children in the study became overweight was 22 months. One quarter of the children in the study reached their overweight “tipping point” at or before 5 months of age.

As a result, the researchers recommend that health care providers begin screening for excessive weight gain “as early as possible” to prevent childhood obesity, rather than trying to reverse a weight problem that has “spiralled out of control.”

I have read volumes of studies and written plenty of posts about preventing childhood obesity. But I have to admit that this particular study and the conclusions it draws make me a little nervous. For starters, I have personally known dozens of “chubby” babies who naturally grew into healthy, fit toddlers, preschoolers and teens. Babies grow at different rates. And just because overweight adults may have been overweight as babies, does not automatically mean that all overweight babies will grow up to become overweight adults.

My second concern here is the tendency for parents and health care experts to overreact to these kinds of studies and take their recommendations to the extreme. Childhood obesity is a hot topic right now, with Michelle Obama leading the charge to tackle this issue. But the way to prevent childhood obesity is to improve school lunches, give children more access to nature and other places to exercise, and avoid overly processed foods not by putting babies on a diet. Babies need fat, and they should be “fat.” This fat is what their brains use to grow and develop.

The answer lies in counseling parents and children about the importance of nutrition and exercise … not scaring them into thinking that their chubby babies will grow up to be obese adults.

Do you agree?

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89 comments

LMj Sunshine

Babies on diets?

LMj Sunshine

Babies on diets?

Ajla C.
Past Member 4 years ago

To je do roditelaj,Ako djecu trpaju svakakvim smecem,nije dobro.

Mary Beth M.
Mary Beth M.4 years ago

Very scary advice. Babies need fat for neurological development. What they don't need is junk food. I am often in awe of what some moms consider 'food' as soon as the child is able to eat solid food or table food. Feed children wholesome healthy food... and omit the Poptarts, sugary cereals, cookies, candy, etc, that I see way too many babies, as young as 12 months, eating as staples of their daily diets. Forget about the whole concept of 'diet', as it has a pejorative connotation...feed babies real food, as much as they want!

Ann Fuller
Ann Fuller4 years ago

A "chubby" baby soon loses that 'baby fat' when they start to walk & run around. Children need: nutrients, vitamins, minerals etc

NO to baby diets!

LAV M.
LAV M.4 years ago

All infants and babies are on a diet. First it is a diet of breastmilk and/or formula, then solids are introduced to the diet, usually vegetables and fruits, with meat being added to the diet later.

The word diet refers to what we eat - not necessarily to a slimming diet... The important thing for all age groups is to have a healthy, balanced diet.

The problems arise when mothers add unhealthy foods to the child's diet, or make it unbalanced by allowing too many sugars, etc. I have seen mothers feed their children some things I found quite alarming for a baby or toddler, or in quantities that I would consider excessive.

LAV M.
LAV M.4 years ago

All infants and babies are on a diet. First it is a diet of breastmilk and/or formula, then solids are introduced to the diet, usually vegetables and fruits, with meat being added to the diet later.

The word diet refers to what we eat - not necessarily to a slimming diet... The important thing for all age groups is to have a healthy, balanced diet.

The problems arise when mothers add unhealthy foods to the child's diet, or make it unbalanced by allowing too many sugars, etc. I have seen mothers feed their children some things I found quite alarming for a baby or toddler, or in quantities that I would consider excessive.

Carole R.
Carole R.4 years ago

Babies don't need diets. They need breast mild so that the fat cells that do grow will go away. Formula fat cells are there for life and that is a bad start.

Ida J.
Ida J.4 years ago

thanks

Susana L.
sue l.5 years ago

thanks