Putting infants to bed with bottles, watching television with them, and encouraging them to finish feeding are all behaviors believed to increase a child’s risk of obesity later in life, and, according to a new survey, are also extremely prevalent parenting behaviors.
Researchers studied data from 863 racially diverse, low-income parents from a project at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, New York University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Miami. They found 50 percent of parents had their infants actively watch television, 45 percent exclusively fed their infants with formula, and 20 percent always fed their infant when they cried. All of these behaviors are believed to increase the risk of obesity later in life.
"These results from a large population of infants — especially the high rates of television watching — teach us that we must begin obesity prevention even earlier, " lead author Eliana M. Perrin, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics in the UNC School of Medicine, was quoted as saying. “While we don't know the exact causes of obesity, families of all races and ethnicities need early counseling to lead healthier lives. That counseling should be culturally-tailored, and we are hoping our research sheds light on the best ways to do that.”