Advocacy Update: Research to measure exposure to breastmilk substitute marketing

ILCA, a NetCode partner, is advocating for research that aims to measure exposure to human/breast milk substitute (BMS) marketing in more than 90 countries worldwide.

The Demographic Health Survey program collects, analyzes and disseminates data to improve population health in more than 90 countries. Funded mainly by USAID, several surveys with various target populations measure topics such as child health, education, nutrition, maternal health and women’s empowerment among others.

ILCA is endorsing a proposed indicator that would measure exposure breast milk substitutes (BMS) marketing. As lactation professionals, we are familiar with research that demonstrates unethical marketing practices contribute to less than optimal breast/chestfeeding for families in our care. (For several recent publications from Helen Keller International, see below.) If accepted, the inclusion of this data in a representative global population would assist researchers in identifying the proportion of families exposed to breast/chest milk substitutes.

The new measure will also identify where they were exposed (in the community or health care facility as two examples), providing advocates with data to design effective advocacy interventions that reduce the influence of BMS companies on family health.

As active members of the WHO/UNICEF Global Breastfeeding Collective and NetCode, ILCA calls upon governments to implement, monitor and enforce the Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and the relevant WHA resolutions. ILCA will be part of an upcoming meeting at WHO in Geneva next month to continue to advocate for Code protection for the health and well being of families worldwide. Stay tuned for updates!

Learn more about exposure to BMS marketing here:

Feeley, A. B., Ndeye Coly, A., Sy Gueye, N. Y., Diop, E. I., Pries, A. M., Champeny, M., … Huffman, S. L. (2016). Promotion and consumption of commercially produced foods among children: situation analysis in an urban setting in Senegal. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 12 Suppl 2, 6476. https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.12304

Helen Keller International, & Ministry of Health. (2018). Breastfeeding practices and consumption of breastmilk substitutes among children under 36 months in Bandung City. Jakarta, Indonesia: Helen Keller International.

Pries, A. M., Huffman, S. L., Adhikary, I., Upreti, S. R., Dhungel, S., Champeny, M., & Zehner, E. (2016). High consumption of commercial food products among children less than 24 months of age and product promotion in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Maternal and Child Nutrition, 12. https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.12267

Pries, A. M., Huffman, S. L., Mengkheang, K., Kroeun, H., Champeny, M., Roberts, M., & Zehner, E. (2016). Pervasive promotion of breastmilk substitutes in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and high usage by mothers for infant and young child feeding. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 12 Suppl 2, 3851. https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.12271

Vitta, B. S., Benjamin, M., Pries, A. M., Champeny, M., Zehner, E., & Huffman, S. L. (2016). Infant and young child feeding practices among children under 2 years of age and maternal exposure to infant and young child feeding messages and promotions in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 12 Suppl 2, 7790. https://doi.org/10.1111/mcn.12292

2 Responses to Advocacy Update: Research to measure exposure to breastmilk substitute marketing

  1. Bindi Borg 28 March 2019 at 06:45 #

    Hi. This is a great initiative. Can we see the question/s please? Many thanks

  2. Michele Griswold 22 May 2019 at 11:25 #

    Hi Bindi- Thanks for your question and sorry I missed it! The questions below are from my notes because the deadline for comments has passed. There was a very comprehensive background document provided by WHO with rationale and suggestions for where these questions could be added to the DHS survey’s existing questions. I do not have an update on whether or not these questions were adopted at this time but will post here if I hear anything further.

    Q1. In the past six months, have you heard or seen any promotion or advertising for infant formula or other milk targeted for babies?
    Q2. Where did you see or hear it? Anywhere else?

    Best,

    Michele Griswold

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