Digital marketing of breastmilk substitutes

Worldwide, too few children are breastfed. Commercial promotion of breast-milk substitutes such as infant formula and toddler milks is one factor undermining breastfeeding practices globally.

The International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes was adopted by the World Health Assembly to protect and promote appropriate infant and young child feeding in 1981. While progress has been made in many countries, challenges to full and effective implementation remain. Over the last two decades, digital marketing practices that were not yet conceived when the Code was written have accelerated in use, reaching women and their families with messages that undermine breastfeeding practices.

In 2020, the seventy-third World Health Assembly requested that the World Health Organization Director General prepare a comprehensive report to understand the scope and impact of digital marketing strategies for the promotion of breastmilk substitutes to be presented in the seventy-fifth World Health Assembly in 2022.

The George Institute was commissioned by the World Health Organization to conduct a systematic scoping review of academic and grey literature to inform this report.