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The global obesity epidemic: Snacking and obesity may start with free meals during infant feeding

Authors

  • CHARLOTTE ERLANSON-ALBERTSSON,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Experimental Medicine, Biomedical Centre (BMC), University of Lund, Lund, Sweden
      Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, Department of Experimental Medicine, BMC, F13, SE-221 84 Lund, Sweden. Tel: + 46 46 222 85 89. Fax: + 46 46 222 40 22. E-mail: charlotte.erlanson-albertsson@med.lu.se
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  • ROLF ZETTERSTRÖM

    1. Acta Paediatrica, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
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Charlotte Erlanson-Albertsson, Department of Experimental Medicine, BMC, F13, SE-221 84 Lund, Sweden. Tel: + 46 46 222 85 89. Fax: + 46 46 222 40 22. E-mail: charlotte.erlanson-albertsson@med.lu.se

Abstract

Feeding is vital for survival. The brain has strong hunger and reward mechanisms that ensure optimal food intake for adequate nutrition. The drive for feeding is particularly strong in humans whose large brains require large energy support. This starts immediately after birth; the newborn child being able to taste sucrose and suck the sweet and fat from its mother's milk. At present, mothers are generally advised to breastfeed children as often as they like, which may be up to 15 times a day. At the same time, childhood obesity is rapidly developing. One reason for the rapidly increasing prevalence of childhood obesity may be overfeeding with snack food.

Conclusion: We hypothesize that non-rule breastfeeding favours the development of snacking throughout the day during childhood, a habit which in turn favours the development of obesity.

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