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Protein Intake During Infancy and Subsequent Body Mass Index in Early Childhood: Results from the Melbourne InFANT Program

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  • Miaobing Zheng
  • Hong-Jie Yu
  • Qi-Qiang He
  • Berit L Heitmann
  • Anna Rangan
  • Sarah A McNaughton
  • Karen J Campbell
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BACKGROUND: The link between high protein intake during infancy and obesity later in childhood has been much debated, and the association with differing protein sources remains unclear.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to examine the associations between total protein intake and protein from different sources (ie, nondairy animal, dairy, and plant) reported at age 9 months and development in body mass index (BMI) z scores until age 5 years.

DESIGN: This study involved a secondary data analysis of the Melbourne InFANT (Infant Feeding, Activity and Nutrition Trial) program, an observational prospective cohort study that was conducted from 2008 to 2013.

PARTICIPANTS/SETTING: Participants were children (n = 345) who completed both the 9-month and 5-year follow-up visits within the Melbourne InFANT program.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: BMI z score was measured at age 5 years.

STATISTICAL ANALYSES PERFORMED: Linear mixed models with a random effect for clusters of mother's group and with adjustment for baseline child and maternal covariates were conducted.

RESULTS: With adjustment for covariates, every 1 g or 1% energy increase in total protein intake at age 9 months was associated with a 0.016-unit (95% CI 0.003 to 0.029) or 0.034-unit (95% CI 0.005 to 0.063) increase in BMI z score at age 5 years, respectively. With respect to protein sources, associations of similar magnitude were found for nondairy animal protein. No evidence of an association with BMI z score was found for dairy (including milk, yogurt, cheese, breast milk, and infant formula) and plant proteins.

CONCLUSIONS: High intakes of total protein, nondairy animal protein, but not dairy or plant proteins, during infancy were associated with higher BMI z score in early childhood. These findings can inform dietary recommendations regarding protein intakes during infancy.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: The InFANT program was registered with Current Controlled Trials (ISRCTN81847050);

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1775-1784
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

    Research areas

  • Animal protein, Body mass index, Infancy, Protein intake, Protein sources

ID: 67547420