This Washington Post article details how the Human and Health Services department toned down a series of ads that promoted breastfeeding after the powerful formula company lobby pressured them to do so.
In an attempt to raise the nation's historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples.Again, I don't judge mothers that use formula, but I DO judge formula companies and their nefarious corporate practices.
Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign.
The ads ran instead with more friendly images of dandelions and cherry-topped ice cream scoops, to dramatize how breast-feeding could help avert respiratory problems and obesity. In a February 2004 letter (pdf), the lobbyists told then-HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson they were "grateful" for his staff's intervention to stop health officials from "scaring expectant mothers into breast-feeding," and asked for help in scaling back more of the ads.
I also came across this OpEd piece that had some fun snarky commentary on our society talking about breastfeeding titled Talking About (Blush) Breastfeeding:
Meanwhile the nation’s mothers spend nearly $3 billion on breast milk substitutes. Not needing breasts any longer to protect kids’ health, they merrily spend another $1 billion on enhancing them, so they look great.
All with the encouragement of your friendly Bush administration and their consumer-friendly motto:
“Better Things for Better Living Through Dissembling.”