Intended for healthcare professionals

Editorials

Calling time on formula milk adverts

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l1200 (Published 18 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l1200

Re: Calling time on formula milk adverts

Excellent to hear the BMJ is taking a stance.

I have long been aware of the polished TV advertising campaigns depicting babies and infants with a voice over about how what babies consume in youth shapes their future. This is a highly emotive strap line.

Whilst, as you denote in your article breast milk substitution advertising is not allowed, 'follow on' formulas are. In a strategic move by the big businesses boss, both products have the same packaging and branding.

I have lived in West Africa and I feel that formula milk, as well as some of the high sugar/salt baby food brands are cleverly promoted and parents choose to give this nutrition instead of the alternatives. This is not only potentially damaging to the health of children and babies but families are also spending their income on expensive substitutes which may not be needed.

As you also quite rightly highlight at the end of your article, formula is completely appropriate if the mother/father/carer chooses this through informed choice - medical issues, preference and so forth. I just question whether with subliminal advertising and targeting vulnerable populations if this is always the case.

Competing interests: No competing interests

18 March 2019
Sophie A Quarshie
SpR Psych
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear