La Leche League International signs the @WHO/@UNICEF open letter and call in support of mothers and families, to #EndExploitativeMarketing practices used by the $55 billion formula milk industry.
The World Health Organization recently published the report, “How marketing of formula milk influences our decisions on infant feeding”. This report is the largest of its kind to date that draws on the experiences of over 8,500 women and 300 health professionals across eight countries.
This report condemns the unethical marketing techniques and strategies used by the milk formula industries, which have strong impacts on parents’ and pregnant women’s choices with regards to their infant feeding. These techniques include “unregulated and invasive online targeting; sponsored advice networks and helplines; promotions and free gifts; and practices to influence training and recommendations among health workers”. These marketing practices influence mothers, parents and families at a vulnerable time in their lives by giving them incomplete information, and suggesting that their products are as good as breastfeeding or that breastfeeding is harder than it really is.
These marketing practices must end, especially when we know that breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, followed by exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond, offers a powerful line of defense against all forms of child malnutrition, including wasting and obesity. Breastfeeding also acts as babies’ first vaccine, protecting them against many common childhood illnesses. It also reduces women’s future risk of diabetes, obesity and some forms of cancer.