Tonight, 29 years after the adoption of the landmark International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, the World Health Assembly adopted two new historic Resolutions which should have long lasting impact on child health.
First a Resolution proposed by Norway called for Member States to implement a set of recommendations which aim to reduce the impact on children of the marketing of ‘junk’ foods. They call on Governments to restrict marketing, including in ‘settings where children gather’ such as schools and to avoid conflicts of interest.
The ‘junk food code’ (1) as many refer to it – was closely followed by a Resolution on Infant and Young Child Nutrition, which also highlighted the impact of commercial promotion of baby foods on the health and survival of children, including the rise in childhood obesity, which is now known to be closely linked with artificial feeding, (2)
The baby food Resolution was debated over three days and tackled several controversial issues including, firstly the need to protect promote and support breastfeeding in emergencies and the need to minimise the risks of artificial by ensuring that any required breastmilk substitutes are purchased, distributed and used according to strict criteria. Member States were urged to follow the Operational Guidance on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies for Emergency Relief Staff. (3)
Secondly – a policy change that has been resisted by the baby food industry for three decades – that there should be an ‘end to all forms of inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children and that nutrition and health claims should not be permitted on these foods’. The Resolution should stop the widespread use of claims about better IQ, better eyesight or protection from infection, which are so misleading to parents. The misleading advertising and labelling of baby foods also entices parents to use them before recommended age of 6 months.