Just when you thought things couldn’t get much more unethical, the baby formula lobby, forced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to “tone-down” their advertising campaign targeted towards improving the percentage of mothers who breast feed their babies. Political appointees changed the ads so that they were kinder and gentler and not hard hitting like they were initially designed and needed to be. This is just another example of the present Administration injecting politics and money into science.
There is little doubt in the medical and scientific community that breast feeding a baby markedly lowers the risk of developing asthma, becoming obese, becoming diabetic and scads more childhood diseases. American’s, according to this article on MSNBC.com are far behind other countries when it comes to breast feeding their babies. Maybe this is another reason our health care system is stressed. Still, to think that lobbyists have such an influence on scientific and medical issues like this makes me more than ill, it truly disgusts me.
The advertising agency that originally created the ads that would have startled mothers into understanding that by not breastfeading their babies, they could potentially harm them, said that by just emphasizing the positives of breastfeeding, the message would not work. Despite that, this is what the HHS did. So how did it work? Exactly like the ad agency said it would, by bombing. During the time the ads were on the air, 2003-2005, the percentage of mothers breastfeeding their babies went DOWN, from 33.2% to 30%. To increase the disgust factor it turns out that the lobbyists even convinced the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics Carden Johnston to help them convince then director of HHS Tommy Thompson to tone down the pro-breastfeeding ads.
This Administration has shown no compunction to make their friends richer regardless of the effects on the citizens of this country. How many children could have led healthier lives had their parents received hard hitting messages that breast feeding is the right thing to do? How many hundreds of millions of dollars have we wasted in treatment of asthma, diabetes, and heart disease that could have been prevented? To allow lobbyists from the baby formula industry to do what they did and to have buckled under the pressure they used is one step up from depravity. Shame on the lobbyists who have no compunction to do what they did. Shame on the political hacks at the Department of Health and Human Services for changing the ads. Shame on Dr. Carden Johnston for betraying his profession and his Hippocratic Oath. Most of all, shame on this Administration for allowing this pervasive assault on the American people to continue. A sad day in our country’s history.