Unhealthy parental feeding practices can be linked to the digital marketing of formula milk and commercial baby foods, research suggests.
A total of 1074 parents were surveyed about the brands, products and digital platforms where they reported seeing ads for formula milk and baby foods between December 2020 and January 2021.
Overall, parents who reported seeing a higher number of ads were 62% less likely to exclusively breastfeed their children during the first six months than those who reported a lower number, and more than twice as likely to feed them breast and other milks.
They were also 84% more likely to give their children formula, more than twice as likely to give them processed foods and 66% more likely to give them sugary drinks. Researchers note that while the study was observational, so it can’t establish cause, the participants were relatively affluent and well educated, so the findings may not be more widely applicable. However, they point out that marketing regulations are needed in digital media to protect young children’s nutrition and health.
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