March 1, 2022 – “The nature of the marketing [detailed in the report] really sought to exploit emotions, the fears and the ambitions of, women and families at a time when they’re potentially most vulnerable,” said Dr. Nigel Rollins, research leader for the report at a press conference. Rollins is a scientist with the Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Division at WHO.

The report’s survey questions included one about women’s desire to breastfeed and found a strong desire to do so, ranging from 49% of the women in Morocco to 98% of the women from Bangladesh. But these respondents said that the marketing could erode that: “I think that all those scientific acronyms [in the marketing] … give a feeling of scientific sophistication. You don’t know what it is but sounds cool,” said a pregnant woman in Guadalajara.

More than half of the 8,500 parents and pregnant women interviewed said they had received marketing communications from formula companies. In the report, WHO and UNICEF said these messages were often “misleading [and] scientifically unsubstantiated” and violated the 1981 WHA Code (although some countries, including the U.S., have not adopted it). 


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