WHO raises concerns over aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes

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WHO raises concerns over aggressive marketing of breast milk substitutes

The World Health Organisation WHO has raised concerns over the digital marketing techniques used by formula milk companies to influence the decisions that new families make with regard to baby feeding.

The global public health body says the aggressive marketing of breast-milk substitutes is intended to dissuade mothers from exclusive breastfeeding.

Marketing techniques have been cited for reinforcing myths about breastfeeding and breast milk and undermining women's confidence in their ability to breastfeed successfully.

The promotion of commercial milk formulas should have been terminated decades ago, said Dr Francesco Branca, Director of the WHO Nutrition and Food Safety Department.

The fact that formula milk companies are using even more powerful marketing techniques to drive up sales is inexcusable and needs to be stopped. The WHO says that this is in a blatant violation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes, which was adopted by the World Health Assembly in 1981.

The Code is designed to protect the general public and mothers from aggressive marketing practices.

The WHO report states that over two billion people were reached and more than 12 million likes, shares or comments were generated from four million social media posts about infant feeding published between January and June 2021.