WHA welcomes guidance on
inappropriate promotion

WHA welcomes guidance on
inappropriate promotion

Six years after the initial call for advice on ending inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children, recommendations have finally been drafted and adopted. They will be helpful to all countries fighting aggressive promotion of commercial foods for babies. The resolution WHA69.9 (2016) http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA69/A69_R9-en.pdf, adopted at the 69th World Health Assembly, “welcomed with appreciation” the Guidance on Ending the Inappropriate Promotion of Foods for Infants and Young Children, and urges Member States to implement the recommendations into national legislation and policies.

The Guidance advises on the following:

  1. Promotion of optimal infant and young child feeding with emphasis on nutrient-rich, safe, and locally-available foods
  2. Scope of the International Code with clear inclusion of FUF and GUMs (milks for young children up to 36 months)
  3. Requirements for promotion of “non-breastmilk substitutes”
  4. Messages that must be included in promotion of complementary foods and messages that may not be included
  5. No cross-promotion of breastmilk substitutes
  6. How to prevent and deal with conflicts of interest

For full text of the Guidance and Resolution, go to:

Guidance on ending the inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/guidance-inappropriate-food-promotion-iyc/en/

The Guidance brings clarity on several ambiguous areas that have been the subject of international controversy. For several years, IBFAN has been highlighting cross promotion tactics used by companies, and the aggressive marketing of growing-up milks. IBFAN has also been concerned over the pervasive personalised promotion that takes place through social media, and conflicts of interest brought on by sponsorship and partnership. Although the Guidance has its weaknesses, it serves to resolve the above issues and will be immensely helpful to countries seeking to implement the Code or to improve their national legislation.

While the Guidance itself is a step in the right direction, the Resolution leaves some vulnerable gaps for industry to undermine the recommendations in the Guidance. A statement delivered by ICDC on behalf of IBFAN to Member States at the WHA warned about these gaps. Stronger impact would have been ensured had the Resolution explicitly urged Member States to..

  • implement the Guidance as a minimum requirement.
  • prioritize public health obligations over trade obligations.
  • ensure Codex standards be coherent with all WHO policies.

As ICDC welcomes this Guidance, we are also reminded that much still remains to be done to protect children against commercial greed, as reflected in the findings of the Joint WHO/UNICEF/IBFAN Report on National Implementation of the International Code and relevant Resolutions (http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/infantfeeding/code_report2016/en/).