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Milk Formula Companies Using Social Media To Target Mothers – WHO Report

Milk Formula Companies have resorted to using the social media history of pregnant women and mothers to market their products according to a new World Health Organization study.
Previously, the companies relied on TV adverts to market their products. However recent campaigns against this have forced them to approach midwives and even media influencers to market their products.
The report titled, ‘Scope and Impact of Digital Marketing Strategies for Promoting Breast-milk Substitute’ shows that companies are using internet search histories and also social media applications to popularize their products.
According to the report, companies are buying or collecting personal information from some social media platforms such as baby clubs to reach out to mothers or pregnant women. The women are also sent information promoting the use of formula.
The findings of the report are from research that sampled and analyzed 4 million social media posts about infant feeding between January and June 2021. These posts are believed to have reached 2.47 billion people.
It is estimated that formula companies post on social media accounts around 90 times a day and are believed to reach 229 million users. This is three times as many people who might get information promoting breastfeeding.
As a result, the UN health agency says such persistent marketing is increasing the purchase of breast-milk substitutes and stopping mothers from breastfeeding exclusively.
The Director of the WHI Nutrition and Food Safety department, Dr. Francesco Branca says such deceptive marketing techniques being employed by companies need to be stopped.
“The promotion of commercial milk formulas should have been terminated decades ago. The fact that formula milk companies are now employing even more powerful and insidious marketing techniques to drive up their sales is inexcusable and must be stopped,” he said.
The proliferation of global digital marketing of formula milk blatantly breaches the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes, which was adopted by the 1981 World Health Assembly.
The Code is a landmark public health agreement designed to protect the general public and mothers from aggressive marketing practices by the baby food industry that negatively impact breastfeeding practices.


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