World Health Assembly should Restrict the Marketing of GUMs

For over 3 decades, IBFAN has actively participated in the WHA focusing its advocacy on infant and young child health by safeguarding public health policy from corporate influence. Being the global office for Code advocacy, much of IBFAN-ICDC’s work involves the implementation and enforcement of the International Code and relevant WHA resolutions. ICDC advocates for issues that are critical in optimal infant and young child feeding and should be highlighted in WHA resolutions.

In recent years, aggressive marketing of Growing Up Milks (GUMs), also called toddler milks, warrants grave concerns especially with escalating global rates of childhood obesity. These commercial milk products that target children from one year old are high in sugar, therefore highly addictive and cause excessive energy intake; moreover, their cross-branding undermines breastfeeding. Their promotion misleads parents to believe these expensive products are necessary even though they cause considerable financial strain to families. ICDC delivered a statement on behalf of IBFAN at the 68thWorld Health Assembly on 26 May, urging the WHO high-level Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity and Member States to restrict promotion of growing-up milks and similar products, in order to give effect to the WHA resolution 65.6.  [Link to Statement].

GUMs have gained the strongest retail sales growth in recent years of all formula milk categories, with Asia being the most affected region. In order to achieve “no increase in childhood overweight” by 2025 in the Global Nutrition Targets endorsed by the 2012 WHA Resolution 65.6, the Childhood Overweight Policy Brief (WHO/NMH/NHD/14.6) states that policy-makers must prioritize regulation of the marketing of food and beverages to children; and regulation of the marketing of complementary foods

[Link to Policy Brief on Global Nutrition Targets 2025, Childhood Overweight]. Developing such a global policy is urgent.

If this is left untended, the number of overweight or obese infants and young children will rise to 70 million globally by 2025, and have associated detrimental physiological, psychological, and socioeconomic consequences and costs. It will also severely impede the current efforts by WHO to protect and promote safe, diversified, affordable, and localised healthy diets.