Could Carbohydrates in Infancy Lead Obesity?

carbsAccording to new research conducted on animals, a diet that is high in carbohydrates given to babies, infants and young children could set them up for a lifetime of weight gain and obesity. The study was conducted in rats and it found that those that were given a diet featuring lots of carbohydrates became automatically ‘programmed’ to gain weight even if you calorie intake in limited during a period of adulthood.

The US-based research published their results in the American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism. They revealed that their animal data suggests that if human babies are given solid food later in the life they will be less prone to obesity. This is also the first time it has been shown with a rat model that there is a resistance to the reversal of this in-built programming effect in adult life.

Even though the research was conducted in rats, it still has enormous implications for the obesity policy and infant nutrition in the Western world.  Currently many of the earliest baby foods and juices are very high in simple sugars and carbohydrates. This research suggests that something needs to be done about that.

The research team gave new born rats specially developed formulas that contained either a composition that is similar to rat milk, in that it derives most of its calories from fat, or a composition that is similar to enriched milk which derives most of its calories from carbohydrates.

The rats that were given the high-carbohydrate formulas were more prone to obesity later in life, regardless whether they were put on a lower-calorie diet at some point in their adulthood.

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