Post: Researchers: Infant formula makers use deceptive marketing strategies to discourage breastfeeding

Three studies published on Tuesday in the scientific journal The Lancet accused infant formula makers of using deceptive marketing strategies to discourage breastfeeding. The researchers called for stricter rules.

The number of women who breastfeed their children is decreasing worldwide. Less than half of newborns and infants are exclusively breastfed in the first six months of life, despite World Health Organization recommendations, according to a series of studies published in the journal Tuesday.

Investigators accuse infant formula manufacturers of blocking access to factual information to promote their products. They called for a framework agreement on the marketing of baby and children’s food products.

Pressure on healthcare professionals

Infant formula sales top $55 billion annually. Manufacturers spend $3.5 billion on advertising each year. The result of these marketing operations, according to these studies, leads to a decrease in breastfeeding.

According to experts, “Breastfeeding promotes healthy brain development and is essential for preventing malnutrition, infectious disease and death, as well as reducing the risk of obesity and later chronic diseases.”

According to The Lancet, digital platforms do much to expand the reach and influence of this marketing, in addition to circumventing the International Convention on the Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, created by the World Health Assembly in 1981. commercials. . Manufacturers also hire health professionals to promote alternatives to breast milk.

“Multifaceted and complex system of influence”

This practice is carried out in many countries, including France. Suzanne Graswell, a pediatrician based in Paris, laments the lack of awareness among health professionals and the general public about the issue. The specialist says that she has already been “pressured to promote artificial products to the detriment of lactation”.

“All training, conferences, seminars and magazines for pediatricians sponsored by laboratories that promote infant formula,” recalls Graswell. “Everywhere pediatricians go, there are ads promoting infant formula.”

Therefore, the study denounces “a multifaceted and complex system of influence that manipulates and uses emotions and scientific information to reshape individual, social and medical norms and values”.

The researchers say this trade strategy “violates the human rights of women and children, harms their health and harms society.” Therefore, they ask for political commitments and a framework agreement on the marketing of food products for children under 3 years old.

Source: EuroNews

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