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Prolonged Bottle Feeding Boosts Kids' Obesity Risk: Study
Date:5/5/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- Babies who are still drinking from a bottle at 2 years of age may be prone to obesity by the time they turn 5, a new study suggests.

For the study, researchers analyzed data on 6,750 children who participated in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort, which included kids from around the United States born in 2001.

About 22 percent of the children continued to use bottles regularly at 24 months of age, meaning they mainly drank from a bottle or were put to bed with one.

At age 5 1/2, about 23 percent of the children who drank from a bottle at age 2 were obese, compared to about 16 percent of kids who'd stopped using a bottle by age 2, according to the study.

That makes children still using a bottle at age 2 about 33 percent more likely to be obese than children who were weaned sooner, the researchers said.

One likely explanation for the finding: kids who are still drinking from a bottle at age 2 are probably consuming more calories than they need, the study authors said.

"At older ages, the bottle is probably used for comfort and convenience rather than nourishment," said study lead author Rachel Gooze, a doctoral candidate in public health at Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education in Philadelphia.

The study will be published in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Pediatrics.

Children were considered obese if their body mass index [BMI, a ratio of weight to height] was at or above the 95th percentile for their age. The proportion of 5-year-olds in the study who were obese roughly tracked other national statistics that place obesity rates among pre-schoolers at about one in five, Gooze said.

Experts have long encouraged parents to wean children from the bottle around age one.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry advises parents to wean children fro
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