Study links obesity to protein in infant formula

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

The results of the EU Childhood Obesity Programme indicate that
low-protein content in infant formula may have metabolic,
endocrinal and developmental benefits for babies - which may also
have an impact on obesity at a later age.

Subject to further follow-up, the findings add weight to the idea that a tendency towards obesity is set in earliest childhood. They come shortly after another study indicated that tendency towards obesity could be genetic. Professor Berthold Koletzko, project co-ordinator from the University of Munich, Germany, said the results "emphasise the importance of promotion of and support for breastfeeding, together with the development of the right composition of infant formula, and support for the choice of appropriate complementary food."​ The study involved 990 infants and ran from October 2002 to July 2006, when the youngest participants reached the age of two. The researchers hypothesised the primary hypothesis that one possible causal factor for the difference in long-term obesity risk between breast and formula-fed infants is the much lower protein content of breast milk compared to infant formula. The infants were randomised to receive either a low-protein formula (1.8g/100kcal, then 2.25g/100kg in follow on formulas) or a high protein formula (3g/100kcal, then 4.5g/100kcal). The intervention lasted for 12 months from birth, and the infants were followed until they reached the age of two. A group of breast-fed children was also followed. In addition to a body growth rate similar to that of breast-fed babies, those in the low protein group were seen to have metabolic and endocrinal benefits too. It is emphasised that the low protein content in the formula is considered safe and is in accordance with the formula composition authorised by the EU. No untoward effects were seen during the study. The programme is part of the Early Nutrition Programming Project (EARNEST), an EU-funded project to investigate the link between nutrition in earliest childhood and health outcomes later in life. The results are being presented today at the pre-congress EARNEST satellite conference of the 15th​ European Congress on Obesity in Budapest by Prof Koletzko. A spokesperson told it is expected that the study will be published, but it is not yet known when and in which journal. The full results have not been seen by However these results are not the end of the story. "These first results of the EU Childhood Obesity Programme contribute to the growing body of scientific evidence that early nutrition can exert important long term 'programming' effects on early development and later health,"​ said Prof Koletzko. Further follow up of the children is planned under the aegis of EARNEST, to investigate whether the observed effects at age two are associated with a lower risk of obesity at a later age.

Related news

Related products

show more


A Modern Look At Managing Blood Sugar

OmniActive Health Technologies | 14-Nov-2017 | Technical / White Paper

Sugar is ubiquitous and addictive. Over the past 30 years, sugar consumption has steadily increased, contributing to the growing epidemic of elevated blood...

It's simple to add fiber with Nutriose®!

It's simple to add fiber with Nutriose®!

Roquette: Improving well-being by offering the best of nature | 13-Nov-2017 | Product Brochure

Roquette helps you create delicious food and beverages with the health benefits of wholesome fiber.

Successful beverage delivery systems for every age

Successful beverage delivery systems for every age

Gelita AG | 08-Nov-2017 | Technical / White Paper

The importance of adequate fluid intake for a healthy and active life is well understood, and drinking a variety of beverages is part of many people’s...

Related suppliers

Follow us


View more