Babies weaned on purees more likely to be overweightPrefer sweeter foods
Babies weaned on solid finger foods rather than spoon-fed purees are less likely to be overweight as children, a new study suggests.
Infants who are allowed to feed themselves finger foods from the start of weaning also preferred carbohydrates more than children who had been spoon-fed, who preferred sweet foods, researchers from Nottingham University found.
The findings, published in the journal BMJ Open, led the researchers to suggest that baby-led weaning could help ward off obesity in later childhood.
The study involved 155 children between the ages of 20 months and 6.5 years, whose parents filled in detailed questionnaires about their children's weaning style and preferences for more than 151 different types of common foods.
Ninety two of the children had been allowed to feed themselves with finger foods (baby-led group) and 63 had been spoon-fed pureed foods throughout weaning.
More children in the spoon-fed group were overweight or obese compared than those in the baby-led group, who tended to be an appropriate weight for their height, age, and gender.
This remained true after taking into account other factors which might influence the results such as differences in birthweight, the background of the parents and whether the babies were breastfed or not.
Carbohydrates were found to be the favourite food of children in the baby led weaning group, while children in the spoon-fed group liked sweet foods best, the researchers found.
This was despite the fact that along with sweet foods, children in the spoon-fed group had also been offered carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, proteins and whole meals, such as lasagne, more often than their peers in the baby led weaning group.
The researchers suggested that carbohydrates presented whole like toast, may enhance a child's awareness of textures, which are lost when food is pureed.
The preference for carbohydrates among those weaned on solids may also be due to them being easier to chew than other solids, such as meats, the researchers said.
Study co-author Dr Nicola Pitchford said: "Our study has produced some very interesting findings. The research suggests that baby-led weaning has a positive impact on the liking of foods that form the building blocks of healthy nutrition, such as carbohydrates.
"Baby-led weaning promotes healthy food preferences in early childhood which may protect against obesity."
This article was published on Tue 7 February 2012
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