Most baby formula health claims that aren’t evidence-based undermine breastfeeding: Researcher

Most health claims in infant formula products are backed by little or no scientific evidence. international search It was discovered with researchers calling for stricter marketing regulations.

Scientists at Imperial College London said regulations need to provide better protection against harms associated with aggressive marketing of baby formula.

They argue that health claims are controversial because they can undermine breastfeeding as it is perceived as superior to formula rather than breastfeeding.

Daniel Manbritt, Emeritus Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London and co-author of the study, has launched a “crusade” against infant formulas that should be made available to mothers who cannot breastfeed. He said he didn’t go.

“However, we strongly oppose the marketing of inappropriate infant formula that offers misleading claims that are not backed by solid evidence,” said Mambaritt. Said AFP.

The study, published February 15 in the British Medical Journal, looked at formula dairy product packaging and its health claims in Australia, Canada, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. was investigated. Spain, UK and US in 2020-22.

Formula maker claims not backed by science

While the most common claims advertised are for supporting brain development, immunity, and growth, nearly three-quarters of products with specific health claims have no scientific references. Not provided.

Additionally, half of the products made claims without mentioning specific ingredients.

Where references were provided, more than half were clinical trials, while the remainder were reviews, opinion letters, or other studies involving animal studies.

However, even the clinical trial bibliography is problematic as only 14% were prospectively enrolled, meaning that the methodology and conduct of the planned trials were made public before enrolling participants. bottom.

Additionally, researchers found that 90% of claims citing registered clinical trials were at high risk of bias.

“These findings support the need to revise the regulatory framework for breast-milk substitutes to better protect consumers and avoid the harm associated with aggressive marketing of such products. I will,” they said. Said.

breastfeeding is the best option

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, if possible. however, 44 percent Percentage of infants up to 6 months of age are exclusively breastfed.

“Breast milk is the ideal food for your baby. It is safe, clean, and contains antibodies that help protect against many common childhood illnesses. situation on that website.

“Breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese, and are less likely to develop diabetes later in life. It also lowers your risk.

“Inappropriate marketing of breastmilk substitutes continues to undermine efforts to improve breastfeeding rates and duration of breastfeeding worldwide.”

newborn baby boy suck milk from mother breast portrait of
Breastfeeding is natural, but often not easy. (Nastya ofly/Shutterstock)

A 2022 report found that pregnant women in China, Vietnam and the UK are being exposed to formula advertisements that violate global marketing guidelines for formula.

The report, written by WHO, UNICEF and M&C Saatchi, says these “aggressive” marketing tactics may keep women away from breastfeeding.

The authors acknowledged the importance of formula for women who cannot or do not wish to breastfeed, while emphasizing that marketing practices are the main reason for low breastfeeding rates worldwide. .

Another study found that formula milk contained twice as much sugar as a glass of soft drink.

The researchers noted that while breast milk is also sweet and high in energy, the sugar content is “unique to the needs of the growing infant.”

“Conversely, infant formulas have a standardized composition, are added during production, and contain added sugars, such as corn syrup, that are not found in breast milk,” said the lead researcher at Leeds Beckett University. Gemma Bridge wrote in The Epoch Times.

She said that while there are codes restricting the marketing of baby formula products, they are mostly voluntary and manufacturers do not have to follow them.

“We found that many of the formulas had labels with images of infants or cute animal toys, presumably designed to entice caregivers to purchase,” Bridge said. said.

“These findings are not surprising, as there is evidence that harmful marketing tactics are widely used by infant formula and follow-up formula manufacturers.”