Dr. Robert Whitaker and Rachel Gooze of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia and Dr. Sarah Anderson of The Ohio State University College of Public Health analyzed data on 6,750 children concerning bottle use at 24 months and the risk of obesity at age 5 1/2.
The study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, found 22 percent of the chilren at age 2 used a bottle as their primary drink container and/or were put to bed with a calorie-containing bottle.
Nearly 23 percent of the prolonged bottle users were obese by the time they were 5 1.2 years old, the study says.
"A 24-month-old girl of average weight and height who is put to bed with an 8-ounce bottle of whole milk would receive approximately 12 percent of her daily caloric needs from that bottle," Gooze says in a statement.
Weaning children from the bottle by the time they are age 1 year is unlikely to cause harm and may prevent obesity, Gooze says.