Too much protein for babies can lead to obesity later in life – but tofu is okay, research shows
Feeding children too much protein in their first few years of life may increase their risk of being overweight when they reach elementary school years, researchers from Deakin University to have found.
Plant protein, however, was encouraged by lead researcher Dr Miaobing (Jazzmin) Zheng, who said eating less animal protein and more plant protein would establish healthy eating habits that will reduce the risk of obesity later in life.
“Protein is an essential nutrient for healthy growth and development, and meat and dairy products are rich sources of iron and calcium which are essential for the early physical and neurological development of children,” said Dr. Zheng, countering this point with his findings, which show that babies do not need as much protein as adults and, in fact, only need small amounts of high-quality protein in their diet, in addition to breast milk or formula.
“A high protein intake in adults is widely considered to be beneficial for weight loss due to its satiating effects, but our research shows that a high protein intake in babies can put them at an increased risk of overweight and obesity later in childhood, ”she explained.
A number of separate studies were used to arrive at the results, including analysis of data from children participating in the Melbourne BABY Program and a systematic review of current research.
In the first study, Dr. Zheng found that nine-month-old babies consumed twice as much protein as recommended for children between seven and 12 months.
“Babies who ate higher amounts of protein, especially meat-based protein, at nine months were more likely to be obese by the age of five,” said Dr. Zheng.
In the second study, involving a systematic review of 16 studies in seven countries, Dr Zheng confirmed that a higher total protein intake in the first two years of life was associated with a higher risk of obesity in infancy and childhood. early adolescence, three to ten years old.
The association was largely the result of babies eating animal proteins, such as meat, fish, eggs, yogurt, and cheese, rather than plant-based proteins, such as beans. / cooked peas / lentils, tofu and nut butters.
Dr Zheng said the results show that parents should feed their babies moderate amounts of protein with a good mix of animal and plant foods.
“I hope these results will give healthcare professionals the evidence they need to provide better dietary advice to new parents and help improve dietary recommendations for protein intake, both in quantity and quality,” during infancy.
To access the results, please see here.