A few years ago, Swedish researchers linked the consumption of vegetable drinks at six months of age to a high body mass index (BMI) at one year of age. These scientists continued their studies on the same group of children, several years later. Their findings were published in the journal Acta Paediatrica.
Risk independent of other factors
This follow-up study covered 1,870 Swedish children. Data on their height and weight were recorded by the Children’s Health Services, while information on their diet and beverage consumption was provided by the parents.
Among the five-year-olds, 11.6% were overweight and 2.3% were obese. The risk of being overweight or obese was almost double (1.94) if by the age of 12 months the children had consumed vegetable milk daily, independently of other factors. Other conditions that may make overweight more likely include heredity, the most important factor, but also low parental education, smoking habit and family history of obesity.
Over-consumption of vegetable drinks
“Vegetable drinks are not bad as such,” said Bernt Alm, author of the study. “The problem lies in the use that is made of them — they are not considered a meal but a supplement to supplement other foods.” In Sweden, children usually consume vegetable milk one to five times a day from six months. In the study, 85% of children aged 12 months were daily consumers.
Swedish vegetable drinks consist of milk, flour and usually enriched with vitamins and minerals. “Vegetable drinks are nutritious, good and have been used for hundreds of years in Sweden,” explains Bernt Alm. “Getting rid of it is not a panacea, but if, for example, the child has other risk factors for being overweight, such as heredity, not consuming these drinks should be considered.”
The importance of being attentive to the feeding of babies
The results of this study remind us that a lot of importance must be attached to the nutrition of young children. Recently, a British study has shown that infants who benefit from a mixed diet from 3 months sleep better and longer than others.