Childhood obesity is a major concern in the UK and the early protein hypothesis suggests that dietary protein intakes in excess of metabolic requirements may contribute to overweight and obesity later in life.
Protein intakes of UK older infants and young children are analysed from a national dietary survey, with a breakdown of the source of the protein. Mean intakes were 70% higher than RNI at 6-12 months, and 150% higher than RNI at 12-18 months. Major sources were formula milks, cows’ milk and other dairy products.
There is a large contribution of protein from 12 months onwards from whole cows’ milk and while cows’ milk contributes valuable nutrients to the diet, the possible implications of this large increase in animal protein intake should be considered. Future research is needed to understand the implication of reducing protein intakes in early life on long-term health.