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Anti-obesity baby food

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The subject of children and obesity is controversial enough on its own, but scientists in Scotland are working on something that is sure to take the debate to a new level. They are developing a diet supplement for infants that will supress hunger, which will supposedly prevent them from growing up fat.

The formula, which contains a hormone called leptin, was developed in response to animal studies that suggested early exposure to leptin could reduce the urge to eat in the long term. There is some evidence that it can decrease the risk for diabetes. The research team that conducted the study “found even adult animals fed a high-fat diet remained slim.” Their conclusion was that feeding leptin at an early age can hardwire the body to want/crave less food – thus preventing obesity in infants, children and adults when the program is stated at birth. Other researchers have not had success in using leptin to reduce hunger in adults in any previous studies.

Supporters say that leptin is present in breast milk, so adding it to formulas is not as unnatural as it sounds. Critics not only doubt the plausibility of such a result, but the advisability of testing it. “Would the first trials be in newly born children?” some have asked, especially in light of the fact that studies on adults have been unsuccessful.

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  • miriam
    April 23, 2007

    My issue with this is that babies naturally consume the amount of food they need, and I am concerned that an increased leptin intake would reduce intake and thus lead to malnutrition.

  • Claire
    April 23, 2007

    Hmmm…I don’t know about that. Like Miriam said, when babies are truly babies, they just “know” when they are hungry but I don’t know that it would lead to malnutrition. I think the problem is when mamas and daddys feed baby EVERY TIME he cries (like once an hour!). If this continues, baby starts getting used to that full feeling and is never satisfied and doesn’t know what hungry means anymore. I worked in a peds clinic this summer and this was what the pediatricians said. Another problem is giving baby “table food” when they are 6 months old. I mean, we had parents tell us that they fed their 8 month old “whatever we eat,” meaning ribs, baked beans, french fried, etc. (given, I do live in MS!) I think a lot of the problem is the parents, not the formula!

  • India
    April 23, 2007

    It’s so depressing, isn’t it? I teach in Glasgow and I have to say that the health of many of our children is appalling. It’s interesting what Miriam said about babies and intake. Apparently one of the problems with bottle feeeding is that if a baby has had enough to eat, but there is milk left in the bottle, mum or dad (naturally enough, I imagine) think that the baby hasn’t had enough and so encourgaes them to finish it – thus from a very young age children learn to over-eat.

  • Maggi
    April 23, 2007

    That’s why they say breastfeeding your baby is best. There is no ‘you must finish everythin in your bottle’ mentality. When baby is full, that’s it. Granted, breast fed babies eat more often (because the breast milk is mroe easily digested) but still. My son nursed every two hours in his first few months, and then gradually went to every 3 hours, then four etc. Today he’s two, a good weight, eats right (thanks to Mommy and Daddy’s example) and gets plenty of exercise. Everything a growing boy needs.

  • Michelle
    May 1, 2007

    This doesn’t make sense to me. Obesity is mainly caused by our diet of processed food- which begins at birth with formula. Breastfeeding is the only way that makes sense, it’s what nature intended. Breastfed children are less likely to become obese.

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