GHC WHA Statement on Agenda Item 12.1 – Maternal, infant and young child nutrition

The Global Health Council in collaboration with 1,000 Days urges the World Health Assembly to support the resolution to strongly endorse the WHO Guidance to End Inappropriate Promotion of Foods for Infants and Young Children.

The Guidance puts forward evidence-based, common sense recommendations which will protect the wellbeing of mothers and children throughout the world. It clarifies that milk products that are marketed for feeding infants and young children are in fact breast-milk substitutes and should be covered by the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent relevant resolutions.

The Guidance was developed in a rigorous manner, taking into account an extensive body of international nutrition science.  The research clearly shows that the aggressive, extensive and inappropriate promotion of formulas for infants and toddlers is contributing to a decline in optimal breastfeeding which ultimately deprives mothers and children of important health benefits.  It is also well-documented that infant and toddler formulas are marketed in ways that are misleading and confuses consumers and that the promotion of these products can even be dangerous when parents unknowingly feed their children milks that are unsuitable for young infants.

Moreover, given that poor diet is the biggest underlying cause of ill health, death and disease globally, there is deep concern among the scientific community that many of these products are high in added sugars, saturated fat, salt and trans-fatty acids and are contributing to the rapid rise in childhood obesity and diabetes.

We know there is strong opposition from those with vested commercial interests but ultimately this is a matter of public health with lasting effects on the future well-being of generations of children throughout the world.

That it why it is imperative that Member States act to end the inappropriate marketing of food products for infants and young children.  Thank you.