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Parents’ Habits Could Increase Child’s Risk of Obesity

breastfeeding-black-momA new study finds that many parents use infant feeding and activity practices that may increase a child’s risk of obesity later on in life.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine surveyed nearly 900 low income parents of infants; their findings show that many reported at least one habit has been linked to increased odds of childhood obesity.

Some of the negative, habitual findings are:


  • Nearly half of parents reported watching television half of the time when they feed their infant
  • About 12 percent of parents introduced solid foods into their child’s diet early on (before 4 months of age)
  • 45 percent of parents used formula exclusively, while only 19 percent breast fed exclusively
  • Infants were put to bed with their bottles by 43 percent of parents
  • The study also found that 90 percent of the kids were exposed to television while 50 percent watched actively on a daily basis

The study, published online on March 17 in Pediatrics, doesn’t prove a cause and effect relationship, but scientists do know that these habits are correlated with childhood obesity from prior research.

Dr. Eliana Perrin, the lead researcher and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill tells WebMD about the risk of one these habits, “breast-feeding likely lowers the risk of childhood obesity to some extent.”

Thus, the study calls for re-educating parents and starting obesity programs earlier.

“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,” writes Dr. Perrin.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention measures that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years alone, and that dietary and physical activity behaviors of children and adolescents are influenced by many sectors of society, including: families, communities, schools, child care settings, medical care providers, faith-based institutions, government agencies, the media, and the food and beverage industries, and entertainment industries.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, and visit her website at

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