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Hospital Hypocrisy on Sponsorship Must End

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, April 18, 2012

For many hospitals, corporate sponsorship is a way of life. It’s how they can afford to build that much-needed new wing or invest in a suite outfitted with new technology. But recently, hospitals have been coming under fire for taking their corporate ties too far.

Last week, a Huffington Post article scolded hospitals for hypocritically giving new moms free formula samples while also extolling the benefits of breastfeeding. 

“Giveaways of free samples directly undercut hospital efforts to support breastfeeding and sends exactly the wrong message to new mothers,” writes the author, Robert Weissman, president of public advocacy group Public Citizen.

He certainly has a point. To be fair, Weissman also notes that today fewer hospitals give out formula samples than ever. A Centers for Disease Control study found that about 35% of hospitals had stopped distributing infant formula samples in 2009, up from 27% in 2007.

While encouraging, those statistics are not good enough for Public Citizen, which has launched an initiative urging the 2,600 hospitals still dolling out formula samples to end the giveaways immediately.

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10 comments on "Hospital Hypocrisy on Sponsorship Must End"


Dana (5/1/2012 at 5:29 PM)
When formula is necessary, women should be able to decide which brands to use by referring to a pediatrician, rather than being limited to the contracts hospitals have with a formula companies. Even though these samples are "free," they end up costing more because mothers are likely to stick with the particular brand they receive in hospitals. These can cost up to $700 per year more than the cheaper alternative brands. Public health should come before corporate profits. The industry makes its profits by ensuring that less women breastfeed their babies. In some hospitals, formula companies provide two different discharge bags: one for moms who intend to formula feed and one for those who intend to breastfeed. And inside the breastfeeding bag, they place infant formula and coupons for more infant formula. This is straightforward attempt to convert these mothers to formula feeders and increase profits. The problem isn't in the use of infant formula when it's necessary, but in the way hospitals are serving as marketing venues for these companies. http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/pressroomredirect.cfm?ID=3578

16788044 (4/26/2012 at 2:24 PM)
Really, you want to pick on breast feeding...that's the best you can do. There are countless mothers who cannot or choose not to breastfeed. If you don't have an ooption for them what message does that send??? And don't say that you addressed this in your article, your one sentence attempt at appeasing these individuals is insulting. If you are going to bash hospitals for being hypocritical at least choose something meaningful. The fast food example is good, you should have started out with that and given it most of the attention. Now I just think that whoever wrote the article is one of those crazy breast feeding mongors who did this until their kids were 5.

M. Bennet Broner (4/19/2012 at 8:15 PM)
I spent a great deal of time at Hollywood (Florida) Memorial Hospital as my sister was dying there. I always found it funny that the McDonald's in the lobby had its own 'crash cart'. Did this say something about the food? However, if we are to rail against unhealthy food in hospitals, we should also look at their cafeterias. Sometimes serving cultural favorites is not the best idea!