Kids Might Learn to Love Junk Food as Babies: Study
Moms and dads who routinely feed their infants crackers, cereals, and bread -- which contain loads of sodium -- might make their kids like salt a lot later in life, according to the Los Angeles Times.
As detailed in the latest issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, these children wound up jonesin' for salt more than their non-halophilic counterparts, the Times notes.
Researchers at the Philadelphia-based Monell Chemical Senses Center came to this conclusion by using lots of super-young infants as lab rats, feeding them regular and slightly salty water in baby bottles.
From the Times:
Colleagues first gave 61 healthy 2-month-old infants a mild solution of salt water: Based on facial expressions and how much they drank, the authors concluded the infants indeed were indifferent to the taste.
When the babies were 6 months old, they were brought back to the Monell clinic by their parents. They were presented with three bottles containing water, a mild salt solution or a slightly saltier solution. Researchers recorded how much fluid they drank from each bottle during a one-minute period -- an indication of how much they preferred each solution.
Almost half of the infants -- 26 -- had been exposed to starchy foods such as crackers, soft bread or cereal, which are often high in salt. During the bottle test, those babies consumed 55% more salt compared with babies who had not yet been exposed to these kinds of foods.
Then, researchers checked on 26 of the kids when they hit preschool.
What they found: Youth who had been exposed to salt early in life wound up "with a greater liking" for the seasoning.
The study has broad implications for public health: Americans eat too much salt, so any explanation could help physicians and nutritionists understand how to change this.