Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Is White Rice Cereal Bad for Infants?

Close to one third of American children are overweight.  Theories abound as to why this dramatic shift has occurred over the past 3 decades.  Is it just too much fast food and too much TV, or is something else contributing to childhood obesity?

I recently read a theory that infant rice cereal may be predisposing children to obesity.  For years pediatricians, including myself, have recommended white rice cereal as one of the first solid foods to give to babies. Dr. Alan Greene of Stanford University has started a grass roots campaign to change how we feed our infants. Here is his explanation:

I am not sure there is overwhelming scientific evidence supporting Dr. Greene's theory, but I find it interesting nonetheless. Whole grain products are certainly safe to give an infant, so why stick with the highly processed, flour-based white rice cereal? I have started recommending whole grain cereal for my patients instead of white rice cereal. As long as the whole grain cereal is iron-fortified, it should offer everything that white rice cereal offers, except less starch. Whole grain cereal also contains essential fats, protein, and minerals that are not found in white rice cereal.

Time will tell if white rice cereal truly is leading children down the obesity path.  In the mean time, there seems to be no risk to switching to whole grain rice cereal for infants.