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Author Notes:

Correspondence: mlampl@emory.edu; Tel.: +1-404-727-2214.

Michelle Lampl, Amanda Mummert, and Meriah Schoen contributed equally to the content and writing of the paper.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



  • growth patterns
  • infant feeding
  • cultural feeding expectations
  • health advertising
  • infant formula

Promoting Healthy Growth or Feeding Obesity? The Need for Evidence-Based Oversight of Infant Nutritional Supplement Claims


Journal Title:



Volume 4, Number 4


, Pages 84-84

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) model recognizes growth in infancy and childhood as a fundamental determinant of lifespan health. Evidence of long-term health risks among small neonates who subsequently grow rapidly poses a challenge for interventions aiming to support healthy growth, not merely drive weight gain. Defining healthy growth beyond “getting bigger” is essential as infant and young child feeding industries expand. Liquid-based nutritional supplements, originally formulated for undernourished children, are increasingly marketed for and consumed by children generally. Clarifying the nature of the evidentiary base on which structure/function claims promoting “healthy growth” are constructed is important to curb invalid generalizations. Evidence points to changing social beliefs and cultural practices surrounding supplementary feeding, raising specific concerns about the long-term health consequences of an associated altered feeding culture, including reduced dietary variety and weight gain. Reassessing the evidence for and relevance of dietary supplements’ “promoting healthy growth” claims for otherwise healthy children is both needed in a time of global obesity and an opportunity to refine intervention approaches among small children for whom rapid subsequent growth in early life augments risk for chronic disease. Scientific and health care partnerships are needed to consider current governmental oversight shortfalls in protecting vulnerable populations from overconsumption. This is important because we may be doing more harm than good.

Copyright information:

© 2016 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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