Can super-sizing start with baby bottles?

Baby bottles, isolated on white

As a country, we have a weight problem. A stunning two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, putting them at risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and all the other health problems obesity brings. While there are myriad reasons we are getting fatter as a nation, one very real and simple one is that our serving sizes are getting bigger.

For example, 20 years ago the average serving of French fries was 2.4 ounces and 210 calories; now it’s 6.9 oz and 610 calories. The average soda was 6.5 ounces and 85 calories; now it’s 20 ounces and 250 calories. Our standard portions of bagels, muffins, cookies, movie popcorn, sandwiches, hamburgers, and pasta have literally doubled. We are all about super-sizing everything.

A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that this super-sizing of servings and waistlines can start really early.

Researchers surveyed the families of almost 400 2-month-olds that were only fed formula. They found that about half of them used bottles that were less than 6 ounces to feed their babies, and half used bottles that were 6 ounces or more. When they checked in with those babies at 6 months, the babies who were fed from bigger bottles had gained more weight than those who were fed from the smaller bottles — and were overall a bit chubbier (their “weight-for-length” was higher).

We feel happy when our babies eat. We like it when they finish their bottles (and we tend to prepare full ones, not half-full ones). And we encourage them to keep drinking until they do. Interestingly, another study showed that babies fed breast milk from bottles gained more weight than those fed from the breast. When we can see there is more there, we are more likely to push babies to finish the bottle — and in doing so, make feeding less about hunger and more about, well, finishing. The average 2-month-old doesn’t need 6 ounces or more at a feeding, but will often take it if pushed to do so.

The problem is that overweight babies are more likely to grow into overweight children, who are more likely to grow into overweight adults. What our minds and bodies learn early about eating can stick for a lifetime.

I am not saying that everyone should start feeding their baby less. But I am saying that we need to be more mindful and aware of how, and how much, we feed our children. A 2013 study showed that when children were given kid-sized plates as opposed to adult-sized plates they served themselves less food and gained less weight, and this is the same idea. It’s all about giving babies (and children, and adults) the amount of food they actually need — and making sure they know when they are full, and know to stop when they are full.

If parents aren’t sure how much their child should be eating, they should check with their doctor. And they should remember that not all cries mean hunger; sometimes babies are tired, need a diaper change or just want to be held.

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14 NIV

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2 NIV

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. Mark 11:24 NIV

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12 NIV

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 NIV

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Matthew 6:7 NIV

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. Psalm 145:18 NIV

‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:3 NIV

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 NIV

 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 NIV

 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:6 NIV

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. Psalm 18:6 NIV

And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 1 John 5:15 NIV

 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16 NIV

Recommended contacts for prayer request and Bible study

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