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Monday 24th October 2016

New baby milk criticised

23rd April 2007

Researchers have been criticised over plans to add a hunger-suppressing hormone to baby formula.

Scientists from Clore Laboratory at the University of Buckingham are exploring the effects of leptin in formula milk, as a possible way of curbing over-eating and preventing obesity in the future. Babies who are breastfed have been shown to have a lower risk of future weight problems than those fed with formula milk.

Dr Mike Cawthorne, the team’s leader, said that giving leptin early “hard-wires the body’s energy balance.? He asserted that the addition of leptin to formula adds back the hormone – “breast milk contains leptin and formula feeds don’t?.

Leptin is produced by the brain and has been studied for its relation to appetite. Experts have likened this particular work – reported in the Chemistry and Industry magazine – to “wildly optimistic science fiction? and are critical of the concept of adding the hormone to infants’ food.

The Buckingham team previously studied the effects of leptin on pregnant rats. The rats were treated with leptin and their offspring remained slim, even when fed a high-fat diet. However, research on humans treated with leptin has shown subjects quickly adapted to its hunger-suppressing effects.

Dr Ian Campbell, honorary medical director of the charity Weight Concern, said that as the research was unsubstantiated, the researchers’ supposition was a “pure flight of fancy?.


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