WHO / FORMULA MILK MARKETING

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22-Feb-2022 00:06:15
A new joint report from WHO and UNICEF details exploitative practices employed by 55 billion USD formula milk industry, compromising child nutrition, violating international commitments. WHO

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STORY: WHO / FORMULA MILK MARKETING
TRT: 6:15
SOURCE: WHO
RESTRICTIONS: PLEASE CREDIT WHO ON SCREEN
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

1. Various shots, Dr Nigel Rollins talking to interviewer
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“This is a joint WHO/UNICEF report, and it tells us the findings of research that was conducted in eight countries examining how marketing of commercial milk formula impacts on our decisions on infant feeding practices.”
3. Med shot, Rollins talking to interviewer
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Globally, in countries all across the world, we have a high prevalence of marketing. More than 50 percent of the women surveyed, remembered and reported seeing or hearing marketing messages. And this is a minimum level of exposure because there are other types of marketing that we aren't really aware of, necessarily.”
5. Various shots, Rollins talking to interviewer
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“One of the most striking features of the research was just the sheer volume and unrelenting nature of the messages being directed at women. We thought in terms of whether it be television and other types of advertisements, personal outreach and even within pharmacies and health facilities, free samples being given. The digital media is now so prevalent everywhere that we saw just time and time again individual data being captured, women being asked for the date of birth or the expected date of birth of their child, which then anchors a whole series of marketing messages. We see social media platforms being used for marketing representatives to make individual contact with individual women.”
7. Close up, camerawoman, Rollins seen on viewfinder
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“We all face marketing every single day, and, you know, also in terms of care of children. But infant feeding from the very first day of birth, those practices, how we feed our children in the first months and years of life fundamentally change the likelihood of survival of health and its lifelong health that impacts on our health outcomes throughout, on the development. And that is not just of the child, but also of the mother. The second thing is that marketing undermines and disrupts our access to impartial, wholly true information on which we all depend for making informed decisions. And that's a fundamental essential right that's stated within the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
9. Various shots, Rollins being interviewed
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“This research and this report is not about cutting infant formula products off the shelves, nor limiting access to products, nor about restricting the rights of anybody. The research focused on marketing practices that try to sway and influence our knowledge, our values, our beliefs about infant feeding. Our concern is that mothers and families, practitioners, have access to impartial, objective information and support about a time of life and a practice in life that is so critically important both immediately and also lifelong.”
11. Med shot, Rollins talking to interviewer
12. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Another major tactic is just how science is being used and incorporated into marketing. We see claims for ingredients improving brain development or growth or your immune system even in the time of the COVID pandemic. And these claims are not substantiated with a whole body of evidence. The ingredients in themselves are not bad, but they don't deliver on the claims that are on the front of the package.”
13. Wide shot, Rollins talking to interviewer
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Another worrisome trend is just the extent to which health workers are being targeted for marketing and how marketing strategies are trying to draw them in to co-opt them as marketing messengers. And we saw many, many health professionals in every country being approached, and we then saw health professionals commonly giving recommendations for formula feeding to mothers. And we see these health professionals being enticed to do this with free gifts, even commissions for sales and health systems and private hospitals. Specific brands having relationships with specific hospitals only.”
15. Med shot, Rollins talking to interviewer
16. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“The most immediate response needs to come from governments, and the Code of Marketing provides a set of recommendations and governments need to take those recommendations into national legislation. But it's more than just bringing it into national legislation. The practices of marketing need to be monitored, and there needs to be enforcement of national legislation because we have very, very few examples of actual sanctions, even whenever there is legislation.”
17. Wide shot, Rollins being interviewed
18. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“We cannot just leave it to governments and to those with authorities or in decisions, we need to state that these types of practices are simply unacceptable. We've got to say as in years gone by, that the way in which we as communities react to commercial influences is not acceptable and that we need something better.”
19. Wide shot, Rollins talking to interviewer

STORYLINE:

A new joint report from WHO and UNICEF details exploitative practices employed by 55 billion USD formula milk industry, compromising child nutrition, violating international commitments

More than half of parents and pregnant women (51 per cent) surveyed for the report say they have been targeted with marketing from formula milk companies, much of which is in breach of international standards on infant feeding practices.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“This is a joint WHO/UNICEF report, and it tells us the findings of research that was conducted in eight countries examining how marketing of commercial milk formula impacts on our decisions on infant feeding practices.”

The report, How Marketing of Formula Milk Influences Our Decisions on Infant Feeding, draws on interviews with parents, pregnant women and health workers in eight countries. It uncovers systematic and unethical marketing strategies used by the formula milk industry – now worth a staggering 55 billion USD – to influence parents’ infant feeding decisions.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Globally, in countries all across the world, we have a high prevalence of marketing. More than 50 percent of the women surveyed, remembered and reported seeing or hearing marketing messages. And this is a minimum level of exposure because there are other types of marketing that we aren't really aware of, necessarily.”

The report finds that industry marketing techniques include unregulated and invasive online targeting; sponsored advice networks and helplines; promotions and free gifts; and practices to influence training and recommendations among health workers.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“One of the most striking features of the research was just the sheer volume and unrelenting nature of the messages being directed at women. We thought in terms of whether it be television and other types of advertisements, personal outreach and even within pharmacies and health facilities, free samples being given. The digital media is now so prevalent everywhere that we saw just time and time again individual data being captured, women being asked for the date of birth or the expected date of birth of their child, which then anchors a whole series of marketing messages. We see social media platforms being used for marketing representatives to make individual contact with individual women.”

The messages that parents and health workers receive are often misleading, scientifically unsubstantiated, and violate the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (the Code) – a landmark public health agreement passed by the World Health Assembly in 1981 to protect mothers from aggressive marketing practices by the baby food industry.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“We all face marketing every single day, and, you know, also in terms of care of children. But infant feeding from the very first day of birth, those practices, how we feed our children in the first months and years of life fundamentally change the likelihood of survival of health and its lifelong health that impacts on our health outcomes throughout, on the development. And that is not just of the child, but also of the mother. The second thing is that marketing undermines and disrupts our access to impartial, wholly true information on which we all depend for making informed decisions. And that's a fundamental essential right that's stated within the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

According to the report – which surveyed 8,500 parents and pregnant women, and 300 health workers in cities across Bangladesh, China, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Viet Nam – exposure to formula milk marketing reaches 84 per cent of all women surveyed in the United Kingdom; 92 per cent of women surveyed in Viet Nam and 97 per cent of women surveyed in China, increasing their likelihood of choosing formula feeding.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“This research and this report is not about cutting infant formula products off the shelves, nor limiting access to products, nor about restricting the rights of anybody. The research focused on marketing practices that try to sway and influence our knowledge, our values, our beliefs about infant feeding. Our concern is that mothers and families, practitioners, have access to impartial, objective information and support about a time of life and a practice in life that is so critically important both immediately and also lifelong.”

Across all countries included in the survey, women expressed a strong desire to breastfeed exclusively, ranging from 49 percent of women in Morocco to 98 percent in Bangladesh. Yet the report details how a sustained flow of misleading marketing messages is reinforcing myths about breastfeeding and breast-milk, and undermining women’s confidence in their ability to breastfeed successfully. These myths include the necessity of formula in the first days after birth, the inadequacy of breast-milk for infant nutrition, that specific infant formula ingredients are proven to improve child development or immunity, the perception that formula keeps infants fuller for longer, and that the quality of breast-milk declines with time.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Another major tactic is just how science is being used and incorporated into marketing. We see claims for ingredients improving brain development or growth or your immune system even in the time of the COVID pandemic. And these claims are not substantiated with a whole body of evidence. The ingredients in themselves are not bad, but they don't deliver on the claims that are on the front of the package.”

Breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, followed by exclusive breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond, offers a powerful line of defense against all forms of child malnutrition, including wasting and obesity. Breastfeeding also acts as babies’ first vaccine, protecting them against many common childhood illnesses. It also reduces women’s future risk of diabetes, obesity and some forms of cancer. Yet globally, only 44 percent of babies less than 6 months old are exclusively breastfed.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“Another worrisome trend is just the extent to which health workers are being targeted for marketing and how marketing strategies are trying to draw them in to co-opt them as marketing messengers. And we saw many, many health professionals in every country being approached, and we then saw health professionals commonly giving recommendations for formula feeding to mothers. And we see these health professionals being enticed to do this with free gifts, even commissions for sales and health systems and private hospitals. Specific brands having relationships with specific hospitals only.”

Global breastfeeding rates have increased very little in the past two decades, while sales of formula milk have more than doubled in roughly the same time.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“The most immediate response needs to come from governments, and the Code of Marketing provides a set of recommendations and governments need to take those recommendations into national legislation. But it's more than just bringing it into national legislation. The practices of marketing need to be monitored, and there needs to be enforcement of national legislation because we have very, very few examples of actual sanctions, even whenever there is legislation.”

Alarmingly, the report notes that large numbers of health workers in all countries had been approached by the baby feeding industry to influence their recommendations to new mothers through promotional gifts, free samples, funding for research, paid meetings, events and conferences, and even commissions from sales, directly impacting parents’ feeding choices. More than one third of women surveyed said a health worker had recommended a specific brand of formula to them.

SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Nigel Rollins, Scientist, Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, World Health Organization (WHO):
“We cannot just leave it to governments and to those with authorities or in decisions, we need to state that these types of practices are simply unacceptable. We've got to say as in years gone by, that the way in which we as communities react to commercial influences is not acceptable and that we need something better.”

To address these challenges, WHO, UNICEF and partners are calling on governments, health workers, and the baby food industry to end exploitative formula milk marketing and fully implement and abide by the Code requirements.
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