Babies who are still bottle-fed by the age of two are at risk of becoming overweight by the time they start school, a new report in the Journal of Pediatrics has claimed.

The researchers from the universities of Ohio and Philadelphia found that children who were still fed bottled drinks at 24-months old were 30 per cent more likely to be obese by five-and-a-half.  The scientists claim parent's should be encouraged to stop using a bottle by the child's first birthday due to the risk of over feeding.

The study's co-author, Rachel Gooze, from the Centre for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia, sad: "A 24-month-old girl of average weight and height who is put to bed with an eight-ounce bottle of whole milk would receive approximately 12% per cent of her daily caloric needs from that bottle."

The findings are supported by the Royal College of Midwives. The organisation's professional policy advisor Janet Fyle told the BBC: "If the child is continuing to use a bottle then the mother may be tempted to put something else in it like a sugary drink or rusk with milk. Then the child gets used to sweet things in their diet.

"Babies should be introduced to a cup or beaker from six months and off a bottle completely by one year."

Posted by Robert Mair on 5.5.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com