Breastfeeding has a range of health benefits for babies and their mothers. Of particular relevance to this U.S. Access to Nutrition Index is that breastfeeding may reduce the risk beyond infancy of gaining weight and of developing some diet-related diseases. The Surgeon General’s 2011 Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding cited several factors that influence whether a mother chooses to breastfeed. These include, for example: a lack of awareness that breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for most infants; the advice from or influence of family members and friends; embarrassment and fear of being stigmatized if they breastfeed; lactation problems; the need to return to work and lack of maternity leave and supportive workplace policies; hospital and clinical practices, and advice received from healthcare professionals; and difficulty accessing professional support to breastfeed. Another factor that is cited, breast-milk substitute (BMS) marketing, is the focus of the U.S. Index assessment on BMS Marketing.
A breast-milk substitute is any food marketed or otherwise presented as a partial or total replacement for breastmilk, whether or not suitable for that purpose. Manufacturers of BMS can protect and support breastfeeding, and the realization of the health benefits for mothers and babies associated with it, by marketing these products in line with the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes (The Code). The U.S. Index assessment on BMS Marketing assesses the extent to which baby food manufacturers that produce infant formula and other breast-milk substitutes do so, using the ATNF BMS Marketing methodology.
The Access to Nutrition Index rates food and beverage manufacturers´ nutrition-related policies, practices and disclosures worldwide on a recurring basis.
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