Infant Formula: Fast Food for Babies.
Pediatric obesity is a declared epidemic with enormous consequences.1,2 There are many risk factors for being overweight, including frequent consumption of fast food. Fast food is cheap, calorie-dense, and easily accessible. Infant formulas closely resemble some of these characteristics and thus may contribute to expansion of pediatric obesity epidemic.
In spite of their meticulous engineering over the last half century, human milk is far superior form of nutrition for most infants, as it serves a dual function of providing the optimal nutrition for growth and development, as well as disease protection. Furthermore, breast feeding provides numerous benefits to the infant, mother and the society in general. One of these benefits is being the only approved intervention during infancy to decrease the likelihood of developing obesity. It is from this limited perspective that infant formulas may resemble some of the characteristics of fast food, such as being cheap, calorie-dense and easily accessible and contribute to the development of pediatric obesity.
Infant formulas are relatively cheap, especially when calculated on a per meal basis. An average six-month old that weighs 17 pounds and consumes 90 kcal/kg/day, requires approximately 34 ounces of mixed formula or about five ounces of formula powder per day. An average price for a thirteen ounce can of formula is fifteen dollars. Thus, the total daily formula expense comes to five dollars, or about 1.67 dollars per meal! Many impoverished families, unable to afford ongoing formula expenses, may qualify for state and federal programs, such as Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which provides free formula.
Pediatr Neonatal Nurs Open J. 2015; 2(2): 72-74. doi: 10.17140/PNNOJ-2-112