Surprise New Link Between Baby Formula And Obesity

A decade-long Australian study has drawn a new link finding that feeding babies earlier can lead to childhood obesity.

Researchers tracked 346 infants and found those who were introduced to solids and formula within the first four months of life were twice as likely to develop childhood obesity.

The decade-long study carried out by researchers at Western Sydney University tracked the health and weight of infants in Sydney's south-west -- which has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in Australia.

WSU Translational Health Research Institute’s Dr Haider Mannan told 10 News First that infants introduced to formula foods or solid foods prior to four months of age had a significantly higher risk of developing obesity.

IMAGE: Getty

"Childhood obesity is linked to adult obesity as well so that means that obese kids have a higher risk of developing obesity during adulthood," Mannan said.

More than four in five mothers in the western Sydney region introduced solids or formula to their infants within the first four months.

READ MOREThe Complicated Minefield Of Tackling Childhood Obesity

READ MOREAussie Kids Could Be Weighed At School To Tackle Obesity

The World Health Organisation also recommends breastfeeding up to six months of age.

"Breast milk contains all the nutrients an infant needs in the first six months of life," it said.

IMAGE: Getty

According to an Australian National Infant Feeding Survey, 96 per cent of babies were initially breastfed, but by four months only 39 per cent were being exclusively breastfed.

However, 69 percent of babies were receiving some breastmilk at four months of age and 60 percent at six months.