1Epidemiologo, 2Nutrizionista, SSDPT Epidemiologia Clinica e Ricerca sui Servizi sanitari, IRCCS Materno-Infantile “Burlo Garofolo”, Trieste
3Psicologa Sociale, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia
4Sociologa, Università di Milano Bicocca
5Sociologa, Istituto di Ricerca Sociale, Milano
6Biologa, SSDPT Epidemiologia Clinica e Ricerca sui Servizi sanitari, IRCCS Materno-Infantile “Burlo Garofolo”, Trieste
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Key words: Infant feeding, Breast milk substitutes, Marketing, International Code, Follow-on formula
Background - In most European countries advertisements of infant formula are forbidden,
while those of follow-on formula are allowed. Recent researches carried out in Australia
and Great Britain have suggested that advertisement of toddler formula is used by the
producing industry as a line extension to promote infant and follow-on formulas.
Objectives - The objective of the study is to assess how advertisements of follow-on formulas are perceived by pregnant women and mothers in Italy.
Materials and Methods - The study was carried out in 8 cities of the North, Centre and South of Italy and had two components: 1) a quantitative analysis of 562 self-administered questionnaires for mothers of children under 3 years of age, to explore their exposure to and perception of formula advertisements; 2) a qualitative analysis of 80 in-depth semi-structured interviews to 80 pregnant women, in their 32-36 weeks of gestation with no other children, on their understanding and perception of two advertisements for follow- on formulas.
Results - Asked in the self-administered questionnaires whether they had ever come across advertisements of infant formulas, 81% of mothers reported that they had, despite the fact that such advertisements are prohibited by law. The qualitative interviews to pregnant women showed their inability to identify the advertised products at first glance due to the ambiguity of the numeral 2 and the presumed age of the portrayed babies; this confusion did not disappear after careful observation of the advertisements and reading of the text.
Conclusions - Advertisements of follow-on formulas are perceived by many pregnant women and mothers as promoting infant formulas.
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