Research has found that young children weaned on home-prepared food grow up to be leaner than those given commercial baby foods.
The findings published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism shows infants with healthy weaning diets including fruits and vegetables had smaller amounts of fat than those fed commercial baby products.
Scientists from the University of Southampton assessed the diets of 536 children at six and 12 months of age by recording the consumption of specific foods as well as the age at which they were introduced.
Children were fed according to weaning guidelines, which recommend a high intake of fruit, vegetables, cooked meat and fish.
Dr Sian Robinson, who led the study, said: ‘Children with higher quality weaning diets including fruits, vegetables and home-prepared foods had a greater lean mass at four years of age.’
An association was also found between longer periods of breastfeeding and low levels of fat mass. The children’s body composition was assessed at four years using an X-ray technique that revealed relative amounts of lean and fat tissue.
Dr Robinson added: ‘Most studies linking infant feeding to later body composition focus on differences in milk feeding, but our study also considered the influence of the weaning diet.’