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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Minnesota: Mothers with Higher Quality Diets Have Slimmer, Leaner Babies

Obesity is a growing problem among toddlers, children, and adolescents in the United States. One risk factor that can lead to obesity in children is gaining weight and fat mass rapidly during the first six months of life.

“A baby who is shooting up through the percentiles in weight-for-length during the first six months is two to three times more likely to become obese as early as adolescence,” said University of Minnesota School of Public Health professor, Dr. Ellen Demerath.

Dr. Demerath and a team of researchers led by postdoctoral fellow Dr. Muna Tahir recently examined the role a mother’s diet plays in infant growth and body composition. Their findings were recently published in the journal Nutrients.

The study found:

“This is evidence that breastfeeding mothers with high quality diets may help their babies to be slimmer and have lower percent body fat than those who have lower quality diets, while also supporting healthy growth in length and lean body mass. This bodes well for their risk of obesity later in life,” said Dr. Demerath.

Dr. Demerath says the next step now is to study what is in breastmilk that could be helping the babies to grow in healthy proportions and body composition. Once that is understood, it is possible the information could be used to guide mothers on what to eat in order to make the most nutritious breastmilk.

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