Health

Formula makers sabotage breastfeeding on social media: WHO


IFormula manufacturers use social media and influencers to target women and drive sales, according to a new study by the World Health Organization. undermining efforts to increase breastfeeding rates, according to a new World Health Organization study.

Companies use personalized content through apps, paid influencers and consulting forums to reach consumers, the WHO report said.

The results build on WHO’s largest-ever study of infant formula marketing, and this is a challenging time for infant formula manufacturers. . The pandemic has resulted in lower birth rates as well as stiffer competition from local rivals in the key Chinese market. Nestle SA, for example, is trying to revive business in that market, while Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc has started selling its baby nutrition business after leaving China last year.

The report analyzed 4 million social media posts about infant feeding published in the 6 months to June last year. The posts reached nearly 2.5 billion people, according to the report. It found that companies selling formula uploaded content about 90 times a day, reaching 229 million users – three times the number of people reached by informative posts about breastfeeding from non-commercial accounts.

“This pervasive marketing is driving up purchases of breast milk substitutes and thus discouraging mothers from exclusive breastfeeding,” the report said.

Marie Chantal Messier, Nestle’s head of food and industry, said the marketing practices of formula companies varied greatly after the publication of the WHO’s first report in February. The Swiss company does not advertise infant formula for infants under 12 months in 163 countries and will voluntarily stop advertising infant formula up to six months globally by the end of this year, she said.

“Danone encourages mothers to breastfeed and even encourages WHO recommendations, being one of the first companies to stop advertising products between 0 and 6 months,” said CEO Antoine de Saint- Affrique said at the company’s AGM earlier this week. He said Danone was “extremely responsible in his approach”.

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