Kim, J. and Peterson, K.E. (2008)
Association of Infant Child Care with Infant Feeding Practices and Weight Gain among US Infants
Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 162(7): 627-633

and

Hawkins, S.S. et al. (2008)
Maternal Employment and Early Childhood Overweight: Findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study
International Journal of Obesity 32: 30-38

and

Stettler, N. (2007)
Nature and Strength of Epidemiological Evidence for Origins of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the First Year of Life
International Journal of Obesity 31: 1035-1043

  • The issue of obesity in both adults and children is moving up the political agenda. These three papers explore the effect of different patterns of childcare on the chances of infants developing eating and exercise patterns that predispose them to a normal, healthy weight.
  • The first paper studied the feeding patterns and weight gain of nine-month-old infants in a birth cohort group, and found weight gain to be greater in those infants who were cared for outside the home.
  • Infants who had entered childcare before nine months of age stopped breastfeeding and were introduced to solid foods earlier, both factors known to raise the risk of unhealthy weight gain.
  • The second paper used a cohort of children born between 2000 and 2002 to investigate the effect of a large number of factors on the risk of children becoming overweight before the age of three. 
  • The most important risk factor for child overweight was found to be the pre-pregnancy body mass index of the mother. Other factors that showed an increase in overweight children included never breastfeeding, early introduction of solid food, low maternal education levels and the mothers’ rapid return to near full-time work. 
  • The third paper is a review of 21 separate studies of the relationship between rapid weight gain in childhood and adult obesity that found strong evidence to support a link between the two in only about half of them.
  • Taken together, these papers show that breastfeeding, late introduction of solid foods, and patterns of childcare that promote these tend to be protective against rapid weight gain in infancy and early childhood, but that there is less evidence of a link between this and adult obesity.