Monday, 10 December 2012

Growing up milk? Grow up.

So, I was going to write a long ranty post about all the things I dislike about 'Growing up milk'. I was going to delve into the politics of formula marketing and how unethical it was, the scaremongering employed by such companies and why I think 'Growing up milk' is a load of old tosh.

But then I found this instead. Turns out, Panorama have already brought 'Growing up milk' under scrutiny. You can read about it here and here. I'll leave you to make your own mind up.

But what angers me most, are the underhand tactics companies use to market these products. Implying that toddlers are at risk of iron and zinc deficiency unless they drink heavily fortified, over-processed milk is preying on the insecurities of parents if you ask me. We all want to do the best by our children. We all want to feed them nutritious food that will help them thrive.

But toddlers are notoriously fussy* (we're repeatedly told, often by milk product manufacturers or marketing depts of other foods aimed at children...hmm...). They might start refusing certain foods (we are warned). Panic! What should we do? Apparently, we should feed them 2 beakers of sweetened, fortified, over-priced milk.

No thank you.

But cows milk isn't a good source of iron the manufacturers claim and this study proves that milk fortified with iron prevents iron stores from deteriorating after the age of 1.

Really? Let's look at that study a little closer shall we:

"The decline in iron status in the control group is likely to have occurred because of a physiologic change rather than as a result of the provision of free milk, because average milk intakes did not change from baseline. The fall in serum ferritin concentration in the control group is consistent with the reduction in serum ferritin concentrations that is known to occur in the second year of life when nonfortified milks are fed." Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Dec;90(6):1541-51. Epub 2009 Oct 14.

So a fall in serum ferritin concentration is known to occur in the second year of life? So why are we trying to prevent a normal physiologic change with a fortified product?

Smells a bit fishy to me.

Another thing that smells a bit fishy is a formula company sponsoring a twitter party and peppering it with suggestions that toddlers don't get enough vitamin D between September and April, so why not feed them 2 beakers of our overpriced milk instead.

Call me a cynic, but we'd never get away with disguised promotion like that in the pharmaceutical industry. Never.

*I admit, I have been very, very lucky with my boys and their eating habits. Boy2 is much fussier than Boy1, but I know many children become so fussy and refuse food on such a regular basis that their poor parents are sick with worry. But I still don't think that an over-processed, sweetened, artificial milk product is the answer for these children. When a manufacturer is giving you advice that coincidentally offers it's own product as the solution to your problems, please just ask whether they are really acting in your best interests...

1 comment:

  1. Nodding my head along to your post. Parents, particularly new ones, are such easy targets for this scaremongering style of advertising, too aren't we? We're all anxious to do our best and these companies take full advantage.
    I read somewhere the other day that said something about only buying food products that are NOT advertised. Makes perfect sense when you think about it.


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