Another news entry from the hall of mirrors today. The story is Baby’s First Week May Set Lifelong Weight Patterns wherein they state:
“The first week of life may be a critical period for establishing lifelong patterns of body weight. Infants who gain rapidly in those first seven days may be more likely to develop weight problems as young adults, suggests a new study published in the April 19 issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.
“Researchers from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Iowa studied 653 adults, ranging in age from 20 to 32.”
Certainly interesting data if you only read that far into the article, but it’s important to proceed so you can find out how weak the research methodology was:
“The subjects, all of whom were white, had been measured as newborns while participating in infant formula studies in Iowa. Those who had gained weight more rapidly during their first week were significantly more likely to be overweight decades later.”
Got that? The subjects were all born in the same geographic region, all had the same racial background, and were all fed infant formula (and further, I’ll bet that they were all fed the same infant formula and that the original research was funded by a formula manufacturer).
More from the story:
“It suggests that there may be a critical period in that first week during which the body’s physiology may be programmed to develop chronic disease throughout life,” Dr. Stettler added.”
Ah yes, so being overweight is a chronic disease? And that being overweight is out of the person’s control? And that there aren’t any other environmental factors that could be involved, like activity or inactivity levels? (I’ve been to Iowa, it’s not the most physically active state in the Union)
“Our findings also point toward new potential targets for preventing obesity,” he said. “If these results are confirmed by other studies, they may lead to interventions in newborns to help prevent long-term development of obesity.”
“After adjusting for other factors, Dr. Stettler’s team found that each additional 100 grams of weight gained during the first eight days increased a baby’s risk of becoming an overweight adult by about 10 percent.”
That’s what bothers me about this article too: I can just see how this is going to be skewed in some stupid parenting book now…
Oh, and the question of whether breastfed babies might see the same correlation (not causation, correlation. These researchers — and reporters — all need to go back to Understanding Research Reports 101 too) between weight gain in the first seven days and later weight problems as an adult? A passing mention at the end of the article notes:
“Given that participants in the current study all received infant formula, Dr. Stettler says, it may be relevant that exclusive breastfeeding during early infancy is known to be associated with a slower rate of weight gain, and possibly with a lower risk of overweight in childhood and adolescence.”
Yeah, it “may” be relevant, Dr. Stettler. It “may” be.