Parents may be increasing child’s risk of obesity: study

Chapel Hill, NC – Parents of infants may practice feeding behaviors that put their child at risk for obesity, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina.

The study involved 863 low-income parents from an obesity prevention trial called Greenlight. Among the racially diverse group, all parents reported “obesogenic” behaviors, which are associated with increasing a child’s risk of obesity. One such behavior was feeding babies formula only, which was more than twice as common as breastfeeding. Additionally, 43 percent of parents said they put their babies to bed with bottles, 38 percent always encouraged their child to finish his or her milk, and 20 percent always fed a crying infant.

Another habit that could lead to obesity, according to the study, was television watching. About 90 percent of children in the study had been exposed to TV, and half of parents purposefully put their child in front of the TV to watch it, the researchers found. They called for early intervention to prevent obesity by targeting behavior such as television watching.

The study was published online March 17 in the journal Pediatrics.