Summary Background Objectives Workpackages
Partners Brochures, Newsletters Results  

Breast feeding has been shown to confer a long-term preventative effect against obesity risk in later life. The EU Childhood Obesity Programme (CHOP) investigated whether the protein/fat ratio in infant formula and complementary feeds has lasting effects on obesity risks. Hence this EU Programme offered opportunities for long-term health promotion by appropriate modification of dietary products for infants.


  • Childhood obesity is a major public health problem and is an identified priority concern for the EU. Infants fed formula are more likely to become obese than breastfed infants. The higher protein content of infant formulae, compared with breast milk, could be a causal factor.

  • The EU Childhood Obesity Programme allowed, for the first time, a one year multicentre intervention trial on new-born infants, to see whether feeding infant formulae, which differ in their level of milk proteins , can influence the risk of later childhood obesity. The trial took place in five countries with different habitual total protein intakes to increase the range of protein intakes and improving the statistical power to test the 'early protein hypothesis' (i.e. Early protein intake predicts infant growth and later risk of childhood obesity).

  • The EU Childhood Obesity Programme studied, over the first two years of life, body composition, hormonal status, protein metabolism and new, simple anthropometric markers of childhood obesity. Important conclusions were drawn at age 2 years on the relation between protein intake, growth and obesity risk. In addition, the whole cohort will be followed up until age 8 years, through the network of the Danone Institutes, to assess the long term impact on the prevalence of obesity.

  • The EU Childhood Obesity Programme explored the impact of consumer (parental) attitudes to, and perceptions of, different practices of infant feeding in relation to infant behaviour (satisfaction, crying, sleep duration) in five different European countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain). This consumer science information helps improve the understanding of consumer (infants and parents) acceptance of and preference for foods that contribute to healthy diets.

  • If a relationship between early dietary protein intake and later childhood obesity risk is confirmed, it offers possibilities for the prevention of obesity, for improving advice given to parents and for developing nutritionally improved dietary products for infants.

  • The first results were presented at the Earnest International conference in Budapest in April 2006


Project Title: Childhood Obesity: Early Programming by Infant Nutrition?
Project Number: QLK1-2001-00389
Acronym: CHOP

This project was carried out with financial support of the European Communities, under the 5th Framework Programme for Research, Technology & Demonstration, specific RTD programme "Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources", Key Action 1 (Food, Nutrition & Health). It does not necessarily reflect the Commissions' views and in no way anticipates its future policy in this area.