14/08/2014 16:57 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Obesity And Spoon-Feeding Your Baby: The Truth

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Baby girl (6-11 months) being spoon-fed

Childhood obesity is a hot topic. Parents are constantly inundated with reports about which behaviours and eating habits will cause our children to become overweight - but just how many of the studies behind these stories hold up to scrutiny?

Earlier this week it was widely reported that spoonfed babies were "more likely to become obese" than infants who fed themselves.

This was the conclusion drawn from a study by Swansea university in which the weight and eating styles of children weaned using a baby-led approach were compared with those weaned using a traditional spoon-feeding style.

The study found that babies in both groups were predominantly of a normal weight when assessed between the ages of 18 and 24 months. However, there were fewer overweight babies in the group who fed themselves and the researchers also found a bigger "satiety response" in that group, which is the child's ability to regulate what they eat when they feel full.

The theory went that babies who are allowed to feed themselves during weaning were less likely to over eat as they were in control of their food intake - which may lead to better appetite control in later life.

However the NHS has spoken out about the way the story has been reported, stating "this speculation remains entirely hypothetical," and that the study does not show that spoon-feeding causes obesity.

According to the NHS, "Ultimately, it is what, rather than how, your child eats that is going to have the most significant long-term influence on their future weight. Just like adults, children benefit from a balanced low-fat diet that contains at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. You should also limit their consumption of sugar and salt."

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