Use of soy-protein formulas and soyfood for feeding infants and children in Asia

Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Dec;68(6 Suppl):1444S-1446S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/68.6.1444S.


Soybeans have been cultivated and consumed in Asia for many centuries. Soy products can be found in all households in Asian countries, and Asian children begin to consume soy formulas and soy products at a very young age. In a study of soy exposure in a group of healthy Singaporean children < 10 y of age, 70% had consumed soy products and of those > 95% had consumed soy products before the age of 18 mo. Soy products are commonly used as food flavorings and for weaning Asian children with lactose intolerance or allergy to cow-milk protein. The widespread use of soy formulas and soy products by Asian children is mainly due to the high nutritive value and palatability of these products.

PIP: Soybean cultivation and consumption in Asia dates back to 2838 BC with a documented evidence of soy farming between the 7th and 11th century. In most Asian countries soy products have become staples, which include soy cooking oil, soy flour, soy sauce, soy beverages, various forms of soybean curd (tofu) and soy infant formulas. A study conducted that evaluates the daily lactose intake among Singaporean children found that approximately 10% of the children were consuming soy formulas. This study examines the use of soy-protein formulas and soyfood for feeding infants and children in Asia. Results confirm the consumption of soy products by 90% of healthy Asian children, with 95% of these children consuming soyfood before 18 months of age. The use of tofu during weaning was more preferred by many Asian mothers because of its availability, soft consistency, high palatability, and high nutritional value. On the other hand, the use of soy formulas has been proven effective in treating children with lactose intolerance compared to cow-milk protein. Furthermore, the use of soy formulas was found to significantly reduce the prevalence of atopic diseases in the first 6 months of life, as well as for children with infantile atopic dermatitis, recurrent bronchiolitis, and bronchial asthma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Food*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactose Intolerance / epidemiology
  • Lactose Intolerance / prevention & control
  • Soybean Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Soybean Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Weaning


  • Soybean Proteins