Thursday, 11 January 2007

False Formula

Whoever said advertising doesn't work?

According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an increasing number of Americans wrongly believe that infant formula is as good as breast milk, "despite widespread information on the benefits of breastfeeding". At the same time, it appears more Americans are uncomfortable with mothers breastfeeding in public. Seems to me, the same applies to breastfeeding in the UK.

[Full disclosure - I'm a breastfeeding mother myself and I do it in public sometimes.]

The Center's findings, reported in the January edition of the American Dietetic Association, "underscore the need to educate the general public that breastfeeding is the best way to feed and nurture infants".

Two nationwide surveys conducted in 1999 and 2003 showed that the number of Americans who agreed that formula is as good as breastmilk rose from 14.3% in 1999 to 25.7% in 2003. Although breastfeeding rates in the US have been on the rise since 1990, the percentage fell for the first time between 2002 and 2003, from 70% to 66%.

The CDC researchers attribute this drop in breastfeeding can be attributed partly to the introduction in 2002 of infant formulas that were advertised as "mimicking the positive influence of breastmilk" on brain and vision development. The researchers also pointed out that the amount spent on advertising infant formula increased from $29 million in 1999 to $46 million in 2004.

Advertising sure works. In this case it seems to have obscured the fact (for some people anyway) that there is a world of difference between the real thing and something that "mimicks" the real thing.

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