Feeding babies solid foods at a younger age increases their likelihood of being overweight in early years, a study has found.
Researchers from University College London examined data for more than 12,000 youngsters and found that more than one in four babies (26%) who were fed solid food in their first four months were more likely to be overweight by the time they reached three years old.
By comparison, only 22% of those fed solids beyond four months were likely to suffer the same weight issues.
The trend continued for children aged five, with nearly a quarter of those studied (24%) exhibiting weight issues compared with those fed at a later age.
The study also shed light on ethnic differences in young children. Nearly a third of black Caribbean and black African children (30%) are overweight aged three, compared with only 10% of Indian children.
This trend also continued to rise to age five, when the researchers found that 36% of black Caribbean and black African children were overweight, compared with 17% of Pakistani and 21% of white children.
Children in Northern Ireland and Wales were also found to be at greater risk of being overweight than those in England and Scotland.