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Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2012 Oct;22(10):813-8. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2012.07.007. Epub 2012 Aug 13.

Complementary feeding patterns in Europe with a special focus on Italy.

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Nutrition Unit, Department of Preventive Medicine, Azienda Sanitaria Locale Brindisi, Brindisi, Italy.


Early nutrition is considered to be crucial for development of persistent obesity in later life. The aim of this paper is to present an overview of complementary feeding patterns across European countries. Most European infants introduce solid foods earlier than 6 completed months of age as recommended by WHO. The commonest risk factors for early introduction of solid foods have been shown to be smoking mothers of young age, low SES and no breastfeeding. The foods most frequently introduced as first solids are fruit and cereals followed by other foods that vary depending on the country of residence and the infants' type of feeding. Insufficient updated information has been made available in Europe in terms of infants' nutrient intake during complementary feeding, as well as on the potential acute metabolic effects of complementary feeding. Websites, e-forums and blogs on complementary feeding are widely spread in the web. The recipes and daily menus published in food industry websites are often nutritionally incorrect. Baby led-weaning (BLW) is based on the principle that babies, upon being started on complementary foods, should be allowed to eat whatever food they want (regular family foods included) in its normal shape. No nutrient intake and metabolic data are nevertheless available about BLW. The current scenario in terms of our understanding of complementary feeding in Europe opens several new research avenues. Not using and not improving our current knowledge of nutrition to improve children's health represents an infringement of children's rights.

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