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September 2017

Baby-Led Weaning—Safe and Effective but Not Preventive of Obesity

Author Affiliations
  • 1MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Institute of Metabolic Science, Cambridge, England
JAMA Pediatr. 2017;171(9):832-833. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.1766

Childhood obesity has important consequences for morbidity and mortality throughout life.1 In 2010, an estimated 43 million children younger than 5 years were obese or overweight worldwide, and the prevalence is expected to increase from 6.7% to 9.1% by 2020.2 Antenatal to early postnatal life is a period of rapid growth and developmental plasticity and therefore considered to be particularly sensitive for obesity prevention.3 Weaning, or the introduction of solid foods, is an important developmental milestone during this window of opportunity for obesity prevention and is a well-reasoned target for interventions. Baby-led weaning encourages infant self-feeding of all solid foods, rather than adult-led spoon-feeding, and is hypothesized to promote self-regulation of energy intake, a trait linked to the development of obesity in observational studies,4 and thereby lower obesity risk.5 However, concerns have been raised that baby-led weaning may increase the risks for infant undernutrition and choking, with most health care professionals reluctant to recommend it.6

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