Is milk making your baby fat?
By Sara Grace C. Fojas
Every mom knows that milk is the best food supplement for babies, especially during their first two years, eight months, and 27 days, or the first 1,000 days of their life. During this period, the child will develop his/her agility, strength, will learn how to sit, stand, walk, run, and more. It will be the days you want to give them all the nourishment they need that will impact on their ability to grow, learn, and thrive.
But too much of everything is never good. Sometimes, because of parents’ desire to keep their children healthy growing up, they give them too much milk and that can lead to obesity.
Obesity is a form of malnutrition that can affect a child’s development, mentally and physically, and can lead to infections and diseases he or she may suffer for an entire lifetime—heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.
“When we talk about obesity, it’s not just the weight per se; it’s a non-communicable disease that might probably develop later on in life. In the Philippines alone, there are five out of 100 children at ages zero to seven years old who are already on their way to becoming obese,” says pedia pulmonary Dr. Gari Astrologio.
According to Dr. Gari, there are many studies that say that as early as the prenatal stage, there are already identified list factors for obesity: one is when mothers gain weight a lot during pregnancy, and the other is maternal smoking.
“If the child is four kilograms during the time of birth, that child can become obese as he/she grows older. More so, if he would be sustaining such weight with rapid weight gain during the first few years of life and having a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than those of the other children. High protein is the culprit that causes a lot of weight gain from the milk that causes them to have a high BMI in the early years of life. Excessive protein intake increases your insulin releasing amino acids or insulenogenic amino acids. When you have these increased, the more rapid the weight gain is,” adds Dr. Gari.
A European Childhood Obesity Project done in several European Union countries showed that children with a higher protein intake, particularly from dairy or milk, during their first two years of life had a higher BMI at age six. This higher BMI is associated with a higher risk of obesity in adulthood. Moreover, an earlier adiposity rebound, or the normal increase in body fat before the age of six, is also associated with a higher risk of obesity.
But by focusing on the right nourishment to give them on the first 1,000 days, this malnutrition can be prevented and reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases. A modest amount of protein is enough to ensure the body functions efficiently. It provides energy and it is crucial to brain development, as well as the production of enzymes and other body chemicals.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says the recommended daily allowance of protein for schoolaged kids is between 19 and 34 grams. Give them more protein than they need and you risk them to obesity and other conditions linked to it such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
It is thus important to ensure that the milk you provide for your children contains optimized protein. a high-quality protein that offers an adequate amount of essential amino acids at a lower protein quantity level to give the child’s optimal growth and development advantage. It also helps reduce the risk of obesity and other related diseases, promotes healthy weight gain as well as a healthier cardiovascular system. It has even proven to help reduce the risk of allergies by 50 percent.
“Breastfeeding for at least four to six months is definitely preventive to allergic disease. The evidence would show that it can prevent allergies but there are individuals who cannot and the recommendation is to use a hydrolyzed formula. Protein may cause obesity and protein may also cause allergy. Giving hydrolyzed milk formula decreases your risk of ectopic dermatitis for about 32 percent and allergic dermatitis for about 33 percent. Breastfeeding is the best nutritional intervention for primary prevention and if not a partially hydrolyzed formula may be used as a substitute,” says pedia-allergologist Dr. Kristine Marie Gutierrez.
“During the first 1,000 days of life, from the time of conception up to the first two years of life, you have to lower down the magnitude of risk to have such non-communicable diseases. Earlier intervention is better for it could prevent obesity. We should be conscious already while on pregnancy. As we grow old, we tend to have risk to accumulate obesity. Breastfeeding is still best for your babies and if you would be giving milk formulas, you might want to consider the low-protein milk that reduces the risk to obesity and later complications. The first 1,000 days is a sensitive period for prevention of health risks,” says. Dr. Gari.