Scoping of health and nutrition claims on infant formula, and the implications for caregivers infant feeding choices
This project will review health and nutrition claims on infant, follow on and toddler formula packs, both overt and implied, and explore how these might influence the type of formula parents choose for their infants.
Birth to age two is a critical period for establishing dietary preferences and eating habits as well as preventing childhood obesity. Labelling of infant formula for is regulated by legislation so as not to discourage breastfeeding and prevent misleading promotion of formula products. Claims on follow on and toddler formula are not as tightly regulated as those on first infant formula and packs should be clearly distinguishable to prevent confusion or cross promotion of formula for younger babies.
It is possible that companies increasingly rely on implied claims to circumvent legislation and influence formula purchasing although how parents interpret such claims is unclear. There is concern that implicit claims could disproportionately influence caregivers on low incomes to purchase more expensive products which provide no benefit to infants. The less strict regulation of formula for older babies and toddlers along with similar packaging to build brand identity may also be exploited to promote first infant formula purchasing.
Aims and methodology
- The first stage will be a systematic review of health and nutrition claims on packs of infant, follow on and toddler formula. Presence of claims and adherence to regulations will be examined on products for each age group and associations with price will be examined.
- Product ranges will be examined to assess similarity between infant, follow on and toddler formula.
- Caregivers will be interviewed to explore their interpretation of the claims identified in the review and assess impact on infant feeding choices.
- Review of claims on baby formula packaging (ongoing to January 2021)
- Interviews with caregivers to assess interpretation and impact of claims (February 2021 to March 2022)