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The development of policy and practice for infant and young-child feeding has a long and troubled history, with decades of conflict and a failure to deliver solutions to the target population – infants, children and their parents. The key divisions are between the World Health Organization, industry and breastfeeding interest groups. Health professionals and parents have become caught in the crossfire.

In 2020, there were 4.9 million deaths globally among children aged under five – nearly half were nutrition related. Nearly 150 million under-five’s suffered from the physical and cognitive effects of stunting. Another 49 million were affected by wasting. The childhood obesity pandemic continues to spread, and more children are both overweight and malnourished. Global breastfeeding rates remain disappointing.

Professor Forsyth proposes that poor leadership and ineffective partnership-working are key factors in the failure to deliver effective policies and practices, contributing to the preventable suffering of this vulnerable population. He takes a health-professional perspective to unpick opposing philosophies and ideologies, and reflects on the underlying policies, practices and politics. To prevent further dysfunctional behaviour and unnecessary suffering—he concludes—the wasted years must end, and a fresh start begin. This requires new thinking, new priorities and new people.
The book covers:

  • The roles of WHO, governments, health professionals, activist groups and parents
  • Inappropriate marketing of breastmilk substitutes by the infant-formula industry
  • Limitations of scientific evidence for underpinning infant-feeding policy and practice
  • Recognising there is more to infant feeding than just breastfeeding
  • Controversies about introducing and continuing solid foods
  • Policies that have to be sensitive to the global socioeconomic diversity of families
  • The importance of family-friendly policies and issues of realism and idealism
  • Misuse of the concept of ‘conflict of interest’
  • Failures in leadership and governance across all stakeholders
  • The need for an independent review and transformational change

The Wasted Years. A Critique of Infant & Child Nutrition

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