HERE Center

Determining the availability and marketing of infant formula and lactation support products (e.g., vitamins, bars, beverages) among retail stores in Black and White Zip Codes in Los Angeles County

Due to historically placed social structures, cultural attitudes, and lack of access to practical accommodations, breastfeeding rates are lowest among Blacks (vs. other race/ethnic groups).

Research examining marketing provides insight in understanding marketing influences for using infant formula instead of breastfeeding. Availability of infant formula and lactation support products in store is also understudied. Past nutrition environment studies have focused on infant formula nor included lactation support products. A 53 question observational audit tool was developed that included availability and marketing of those products. Two trained research assistants used this tool to independently rate products in stores among Black zip codes and Non-Hispanic White (NHW) zip codes.

Chi-square tests and frequencies were run on selected study variables. Inter-rater reliability was calculated immediately after doing store observations after training, after 10% of store sample observation completion, and after 30% of store sample observation completion. Preliminary findings demonstrate there is more availability of infant formula and lactation support products in Non-Hispanic White zip codes (vs. stores in Black zip codes). No advertising of any product type on exterior of stores in either community. Inter-rater reliability was good (0.91-1.00). Findings have been presented at state meetings and locally. Additionally, findings will be disseminated in scientific journal articles and brief reports/public access outlets for general audience.

Research Area:

  • Maternal and Infant Health
  • Breastfeeding Inequities

Start Date:

April 2019 - August 2019


Kimberly Seals Allers (entrepreneur, author, editorial director of the Maternal and Child Health Communication Collective)