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Content analysis of on-package formula labelling in Great Britain: use of marketing messages on first infant, follow-on, growing-up and specialist formula

Conway, Rana; Esser, Sara; Smith, Andrea D; Steptoe, Andrew; Llewellyn, Clare; (2023) Content analysis of on-package formula labelling in Great Britain: use of marketing messages on first infant, follow-on, growing-up and specialist formula. Public Health Nutrition 10.1017/S1368980023000216. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To explore on-package formula messaging with reference to legislation and government issued guidance in Great Britain (GB). DESIGN: Formula products were identified, pictures of all sides of packs collated, and on-package text and images were coded. Compliance with both GB legislation and guidance issued by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) was assessed. SETTING: All formula packs available for sale over the counter in GB between April and October 2020. PARTICIPANTS: Formula packs (n71) including infant formula, follow-on formula, growing-up formula and specialist formula were identified, coded and analysed. RESULTS: In total, 41% of formula packs included nutrition claims and 18% included health claims that may be considered non-permitted according to DHSC guidance. Additionally, 72% of products showed images considered 'non-permitted'. BMS legislation states infant and follow-on formula packs should be clearly distinguishable but does not provide criteria to assess similarity. Based on DHSC guidance, 72% of infant and follow-on formula packs were categorised as showing a high degree of similarity. Marketing practices not covered by current legislation were widespread, such as 94% of infant formula packs including advertisements for follow-on formula or growing-up formula. CONCLUSIONS: Text and images considered non-permitted according to DHSC guidance for implementing Breast Milk Substitute (BMS) legislation were widespread on formula products available in GB. As terms such as 'similarity' are not defined in BMS legislation it was unclear if breaches had occurred. Findings support the WHO call for loopholes in domestic legislation to be closed as a matter of urgency.

Type: Article
Title: Content analysis of on-package formula labelling in Great Britain: use of marketing messages on first infant, follow-on, growing-up and specialist formula
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S1368980023000216
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1368980023000216
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third-party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: BMS, child nutrition, infant formula, labelling, marketing, policy
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Behavioural Science and Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10164151
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