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Center for Solutions Through Research in Diet & Exercise

Study Examines Bottle-Feeding and Infant Obesity

Alison Ventura, a kinesiology professor who is on STRIDE's Steering Committee, is leading a new research project focused on obesity prevention in infancy. Ventura received a $150,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the health outcomes that result from bottle-feeding infants. Her objective is to understand parent-child interactions around food and how parent and child characteristics interact to shape the development of eating behaviors that may either protect children or place them at risk for obesity.

According to Ventura, there is evidence that breast-feeding is more beneficial to an infant’s health than feeding formula from a bottle. Ventura aims to find the healthiest way to make bottle-feeding as close to breast-feeding as possible.

“We have data that shows that infants who are bottle-fed are at a higher risk of being overfed,” Ventura said. “Part of our purpose is figuring out if it’s something about the bottle that makes babies eat more and at a faster pace, or if it’s something about how caregivers feed infants from a bottle.

“The ultimate goal would be to come up with some tangible ways that we can educate mothers or caregivers to show them that bottle-feeding may lead to child obesity, as well as provide some strategies to help them make sure that their baby is as healthy as possible.”

These strategies will promote bottle-fed infants’ natural abilities to self-regulate their intake and foster their healthy weight gain trajectory.

Ventura is looking for student assistants to play a role in her study at Cal Poly. Students would develop an understanding of how to measure and quantify behavior of parents and children by coding the videos of mothers feeding their infants.

“There is a behavioral coding system that students will be trained on,” she said. In coding the videos, they would watch the video and look for certain behaviors of the mother and infant.

“From that, we can determine how responsive the mother is to the infant and how clear the infant is in his or her signaling,” Ventura said.

Ventura plans to give senior project credit for student involvement in her study. She is applying for several grants that would help fund student involvement and provide student salaries.

If you are interested in assisting with Ventura’s research project, please contact her at akventur@calpoly.edu.


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