Higher Protein In Infant Formula –Doubling the Risk of Excess Body Fat in 6 year-olds

A recent study (thanks to John Pohl for link from twitter feed) (M Totzauer et al. Obesity 2018; https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.22203) indicates that high protein infant formula is associated with an increased risk of obesity.

Full Link: Effect of Lower Versus Higher Protein Content in Infant Formula Through the First Year on Body Composition from 1 to 6 Years: Follow‐Up of a Randomized Clinical Trial

From Abstract:


In a multicenter, double‐blind European trial, healthy infants (N = 1,090) were randomly assigned to different protein content formulas (upper [HP] and lower [LP] limits of the European Union regulations in 2001) during the first year; breastfed infants (N = 588) were recruited for reference values.

Weight, height, and triceps and subscapular skinfold (SF) thickness were measured repeatedly (N = 650 at 6 years), and body composition was estimated (Slaughter). The 99th percentile of fat mass index reference data were used to assess excess body fat at 6 years.


At 2 and 6 years, the study observed greater sum of SFs (Δ 2 years: 0.5 mm, P = 0.026, Δ 6 years: 0.6 mm, P = 0.045), fat mass index (Δ 2 years: 0.12 kg/m², P = 0.008, Δ 6 years: 0.15 kg/m², P = 0.011), and fat‐free mass index (Δ 2 years: 0.17 kg/m², P = 0.003, Δ 6 years: 0.18 kg/m², P = 0.010) in the HP group compared with the LP group. At 6 years, the HP group had a twofold higher risk than the LP group for excess body fat (adjusted odds ratio: 2.13, P = 0.019).


Infant formula with HP levels induced greater fat mass in children from 2 to 6 years. Lowering the protein content of infant formula may result in a healthier body composition in early childhood.

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