A non-exhaustive list of some of my favourite studies and articles.
Baby Self-Feeding, Nancy Ripton & Melanie Potock M.A., CCC-SLP, published 2016 ©Nancy Ripton publishing
This book is full of useful recipes and practical tips, but I particularly love it for two reasons:
- They differentiate “self feeding” from “baby led weaning”. In my observation, baby led weaning has a heap of interpretations, but all amount to a type of self feeding. Self feeding is where research therefore needs to focus, to capture broadest representative results.
- They dive into the history of baby foods. Did you know that we’ve only been pulverising baby foods to fine purees since the 1900s? Apparently fibre was thought to be a health risk, too much for the delicate digestive systems of women and children.
With so many benefits to mush foods and textured foods, including encouraging adventurous eating habits, oramotory development, and healthier foods tending to natural texture, perhaps it’s time that we rethink this.
Of the four parental “Feeding Styles”, only one is good for kids’ health, experts say. CNN, October 2018 https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/04/health/parenting-food-drayer/
It is so nice to see expert acknowledgement that feeding styles matter!
"We have evidence in the childhood nutrition literature that feeding styles may influence not only a child's body weight but their relationship with food and how they behave around eating,"
According to the article, an authoritative “Love with limits” style, where you offer options for healthy foods but allow them to decide how much to eat is optimal for establishing autonomous healthy choices later in life.
They also outline some of the major risk factors of the other three styles. Have a read: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/10/04/health/parenting-food-drayer/
Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, WHO 2017 http://www.who.int/end-childhood-obesity/facts/en/
The World Health Organisation, as the global authority on health research is perhaps understandably conservative regarding emerging fields such as infant self feeding.
But despite their assertion that obesity is preventable, their recommendations of greater awareness of nutrition information and promotion of exercise represent the same recommendations that have failed to reduce or even slow obesity statistics in any country in 30 years.
How children are introduced to foods, how this establishes their relationship with food and affects their lifelong habits, and how much kids are encouraged to consume, is as yet overlooked.
Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980–2013, Marie Ng, PhD; Tom Fleming, BS; Margaret Robinson, BA; Blake Thomson, BA; Nicholas Graetz, BS; Christopher Margono, BS et al. 2014 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)60460-8/fulltext
This groundbreaking study traces the history of our obesity pandemic across all developed countries for the 30 years from 1980, when it first became serious population health concern. They note both that none of these countries have recorded any success in reducing their obesity statistics in all this time, and that peak obesity rates are moving younger globally.
I was particularly struck by the rate in young children and infants, which inspired me to ask what could it be that we were all doing so wrong? Across all countries studied, with their different cultural foods, availability or reliance on typical scapegoats of junk food or technology to limit exercise…
How much of a factor could junk food and lack of exercise be in kids just learning to walk anyway?
The spike in obesity rates also coincides with the release of our first dietary guidelines.
The Sugar Conspiracy, The Guardian, April 2016
A fantastic read on how we came to believe what we do about what is or isn’t healthy eating.
Where did “Low fat”, “Lite” trends come from? And why do foods labelled as “diet” or “healthy” lead to yoyo dieting and usually leave us fatter than we started? (Again, drawing on personal experience)
Turns out the idea that eating fat makes you fat (and causes heart disease) was only ever a questionable hypothesis by Ancel Keys that made it into international recommendations as a result not of merit, but of aggressive strategy of his pet theory on a grand scale, in a time of national crisis.
The global response was to eliminate fat, and replace it with sugar – the precise opposite of what the alternative hypothesis by John Yudkin suggested, and apparently the worst thing we could have done.
The focus was our adult diets, but how has this influenced what we feed our kids?
Baby knows best? The impact of weaning style on food preferences and BMI in early childhood in a case controlled sample, Townsend E, Pitchford N, 2012
This was the first paper in the space of infant self feeding, and showed such promise for fussy eating and obesity prevention that it inspired a whole field of research emerging globally.
This was the first study I found when I was first exploring my hypothesis that overconsumption patterns can be traced all the way back to weaning, and it sealed Mashblox’ research partnership with University of Canberra to run pilot into fussy eating in 2017.
While its reliance on self-report data has limitations, it remains a favourite because this is precisely what permits authenticity of the methods of self feeding: every subsequent trial has been limited by the choking risk inherent to a significant proportion of kids attempting to feed themselves with anything solid enough to handle.
BLISS study, University of Otago, NZ, 2017
Baby-Led Introduction to SolidS (BLISS) study: a randomised controlled trial of a baby-led approach to complementary feeding, Daniels L, Heath AL, Williams SM, Cameron SL, Fleming EA, Taylor BJ, Wheeler BJ, Gibson RS, Taylor RW, 2017
As the first randomised clinical trial on self feeding, this was quite a significant paper. However, they had to modify diet owing to the choking risk flagged previously, including extending breastfeeding to 6 months with assistance from lactation consultants.
They didn’t find any correlation with healthier BMI, but we don’t actually know what these children ate, just the calories. Since award winning doco “That Sugar Film” by Australian filmmaker Damon Gameau demonstrated an 8kg weight gain in just 8 weeks when he changed his diet for one with equivalent calories but laden with sugar, I believe this may also be significant.
We also don’t get to see if these children maintain satiety responsiveness as they grow. I suspect that they might.
The paper concludes that more research is needed, preferably with unmodified baby led weaning practices.
Rethinking baby food pouches, New York Times, June 2018
this is my favourite because
The consensus on baby food pouches (among many that I’ve spoken to) seems to be that they’re a necessary evil: nothing [yet] matches them for convenience, and their contents aren’t too bad… However:
- Overconsumption is easier both with liquid foods and prepacked portion sizes. These are enormous for children of that age
- Package design necessitates a fine puree, which therefore needs to be sweet to be tasty. (What would you prefer of a puree steak, potato, carrot or apple?)
The result is to acclimatise children to sweeter, prepackaged foods. The
- Speech pathology issues are on the rise in children receiving disproportionate meals through pouches. Since they haven’t had to chew, they don’t develop the same muscles used to speak.
See also: “Generation Suck could damage children’s development” ABC, 26th August 2016