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Healthcare 2016, 4(4), 84; doi:10.3390/healthcare4040084

Promoting Healthy Growth or Feeding Obesity? The Need for Evidence-Based Oversight of Infant Nutritional Supplement Claims

1
Center for the Study of Human Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
2
Department of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
3
Department of Nutrition, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Sampath Parthasarathy
Received: 29 August 2016 / Revised: 10 October 2016 / Accepted: 27 October 2016 / Published: 12 November 2016
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [268 KB, uploaded 12 November 2016]

Abstract

The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) model recognizes growth in infancy and childhood as a fundamental determinant of lifespan health. Evidence of long-term health risks among small neonates who subsequently grow rapidly poses a challenge for interventions aiming to support healthy growth, not merely drive weight gain. Defining healthy growth beyond “getting bigger” is essential as infant and young child feeding industries expand. Liquid-based nutritional supplements, originally formulated for undernourished children, are increasingly marketed for and consumed by children generally. Clarifying the nature of the evidentiary base on which structure/function claims promoting “healthy growth” are constructed is important to curb invalid generalizations. Evidence points to changing social beliefs and cultural practices surrounding supplementary feeding, raising specific concerns about the long-term health consequences of an associated altered feeding culture, including reduced dietary variety and weight gain. Reassessing the evidence for and relevance of dietary supplements’ “promoting healthy growth” claims for otherwise healthy children is both needed in a time of global obesity and an opportunity to refine intervention approaches among small children for whom rapid subsequent growth in early life augments risk for chronic disease. Scientific and health care partnerships are needed to consider current governmental oversight shortfalls in protecting vulnerable populations from overconsumption. This is important because we may be doing more harm than good. View Full-Text
Keywords: growth patterns; infant feeding; cultural feeding expectations; health advertising; infant formula growth patterns; infant feeding; cultural feeding expectations; health advertising; infant formula
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Lampl, M.; Mummert, A.; Schoen, M. Promoting Healthy Growth or Feeding Obesity? The Need for Evidence-Based Oversight of Infant Nutritional Supplement Claims. Healthcare 2016, 4, 84.

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