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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

NYU: How Infant Formula and Toddler Milk Marketing Influences Young Children’s Diets

A narrative review co-authored by Dr. Jennifer Pomeranz, assistant professor of public health policy and management at New York University School of Global Public Health, was published by Nutrition Reviews titled “Infant formula and toddler milk marketing: opportunities to address harmful practices and improve young children’s diets.” 

Children’s diets in their first 1,000 days influence dietary preferences, eating habits, and long-term health. Yet, the diets of most infants and toddlers in the U.S. do not conform to recommendations for optimal child nutrition. This narrative review examines whether marketing for infant formula and other commercial baby/toddler foods plays a role. The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly encourages countries and manufacturers to prohibit marketing practices that discourage initiation of, and continued, breastfeeding. However, widespread infant formula marketing negatively impacts breastfeeding in the U.S.

Although further research is needed, this literature review demonstrates extensive marketing of infant formula and toddler milks that likely misinforms parents about potential benefits to children. This marketing also contributes to suboptimal feeding practices that gives rise to poor diets in young children and impedes optimal development of taste preferences and eating behaviors. Additional parent education and resources about optimal feeding are required, and there is a need for broad systemic changes through policy at every level of government to combat these practices. Manufacturers, policymakers, health professionals, advocates, and researchers also have an important role to play in identifying and stopping the marketing of food and drinks that can harm the long-term nutrition and health of children.

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