WHO criticises formula makers’ advertising tactics

WHO and UNICEF argue that countries do not have enough power to restrict advertising of breast-milk substitutes, leaving too many children still drinking formula.

On February 23, the United Nations criticized formula makers for their marketing tactics, calling them “unethical” practices targeting pregnant women and healthcare workers.

According to the multilateral organization, dairy companies are too focused on profits rather than children’s health.

In an article titled “How formula marketing affects our decisions about how to breastfeed,” the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) argue that countries are not strong enough to limit breastmilk advertising . Alternative products, resulting in too many babies still drinking formula.

[Bottle-fed babies can eat millions of microplastics every day]

A report by a United Nations agency found that the $55 billion formula industry implements systematic aggressive marketing strategies and spends up to $5 billion annually to influence decision-making. Decide. confirm. . Parents are raising young children.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the report clarified that the marketing of infant formula was still widespread, misleading and had an unacceptable impact.

Meanwhile, UNICEF executive director Kathryn Russell called on authorities to develop strong breastfeeding policies, regulations and investments to ensure women are protected from abuse. abuse. abuse. Marketing. “No morals.”

According to the official, dishonest and misleading information about formula products is a major barrier to breastfeeding.

The report’s authors and several industry experts stress that it is time to reform the World Health Organization’s 1981 International Code of Conduct for the Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, thereby increasing regulation of the industry. Milk powder production.

Formula milk and tobacco are the only two products with international marketing and advertising restrictions guidelines.

However, despite this, only 25 countries have implemented the code into law.

More than 50% of 8,500 parents, expecting mothers and healthcare workers reported a high chance of being exposed to recipe ads, many of which violated guidelines.

In China, 97% of women surveyed said they had seen an advertisement for formula, compared with 84% in the UK and 92% in Vietnam.

Across the eight countries surveyed, more than 33 percent of women said they were recommended by a healthcare professional for a specific brand of formula.

Scientists have long proven the benefits of breastfeeding, claiming that breastfed babies are healthier, have better brain development and are less likely to be overweight or diabetic. back road. This.

At the same time, breastfeeding mothers have a lower risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Experts from WHO and UNICEF also recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months of life.

However, despite these benefits, only 44% of children under 6 months are entitled to this benefit.

Global breastfeeding rates have barely increased over the past two decades, while formula sales have more than doubled over the same period, the report said.

Nigel Rollins, a WHO official and lead author of the report, said formula makers were ramping up marketing efforts in a variety of ways, such as digital messages, giveaways and more. promotions etc. New families with young children even advertise their products through medical professionals.

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