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Protein in infant formula: the lower, the better?

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Sandra Einerhand
Einerhand Science & Innovation BV

Fighting obesity is a major challenge humanity faces today. High protein intake in early life is associated with a greater risk of obesity in later life. Therefore, lowering the amount of protein seems to be the target, but what’s the appropiate amount to ensure proper growth?  Earlier this year, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a scientific opinion stating that follow-on formula with a protein content of at least 1.6 g/100 kcal made from either intact cow or goat’s milk protein is suitable and safe for healthy infants living in Europe(1). Although current EU legislation sets the minimum protein content at 1.8 g/100kcal, this seems to be a great step forward towards getting the protein concentration in follow-on formula closer to the levels found in breast milk. However, it is not only the protein quantity that counts, the protein quality is equally important.

Protein is a key macronutrient especially in early life, because the infant growths and develops rapidly. Deficient protein intake can lead to suboptimal growth and impaired immune- and neurodevelopment of the infant (2). However, protein intake that is too high may lead to rap ...




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