A new study highlighted by Time magazine reports that feeding babies finger food instead of strained mixtures might be the secret weapon in fighting off obesity. In an odd turn of events, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has hit back, saying the study lacked credibility. Kathleen Sebelius singled out the following passage from Time magazine as being “problematic” for HHS:
The findings might seem counterintuitive, but letting babies self-feed while weaning may help them become more mindful of their own appetites and learn to eat accordingly, researchers said. It also encourages a less controlling parental style and keeps anxious parents from shoveling too much food in babies’ mouths. Plus, giving infants whole foods to start may encourage healthier food preferences overall. The authors write:
Presenting carbohydrates to infants in their whole food format, such as toast, rather than a pureed form may highlight awareness of perceptual features (such as texture) that is masked when food is pureed. Previous research has shown that food presentation significantly influences food preferences.
With the nation the largest it’s ever been, reporters pushed the Secretary for specifics. At a press conference late Friday Sebelius said:
Some people think we need to let babies be adults, and I understand that. These days the most freedom an individual will ever have exists during infancy. It’s not long before the federal government starts spoon feeding individuals what they can and can’t do, what they can and can’t eat, and where they can and can’t go. Conservatives think we should let babies enjoy adulthood while it lasts—roughly birth to twelve months—and I respect that. But we’re going to do it the federal government’s way anyway. Once a baby gets a taste of independence—even the independence associated with picking its own finger food—we get ourselves on a slippery slope. Before you know it they’ll be throwing frisbees on beaches when the law strictly forbids it. Personally, these babies should be thanking their lucky stars they weren’t aborted.“
Senior level officials in the Obama administration could not be reached for comment.