Aug 12, 2012

Reducing the National Debt

August 12- What's an eco-friendly organization that you could get behind and support?

It's FREE!

Isn't that eco-friendly?

It's always available, in the right amount, at the right temperature, at the right time.
It prevents illnesses, including obesity.
It's a renewable resource. 
It prevents death.

How much more convincing do you need?

You may have guessed by now that I'm talking about breastfeeding. As an alumnus of La Leche League International, I am a champion of breastfeeding and of this organization's message. I didn't intend to spend a lot of time on this article, but as usual, I got sucked into the internet search blackhole. Also, this is not a post on the advantages of breastfeeding over formula feeding, although even WebMD lists 10 of them compared to the two it lists for bottlefeeding.

One of the reasons I consider breastfeeding to be ecologically sound is that it has the potential for reducing our national debt. I did a search for data on the economic burden on our country by considering just the impact made by WIC giving formula to their clients. It is hard to find current figures---the most recent I could find was 2008 in an article from UPI, an international press reporting service. It reported that
  • the federal program with arguably the greatest practical influence over the nation's infant-feeding practices--the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC--continues to distribute more than half the infant formula sold in the U.S. each year. That formula, which is provided to WIC at a discount, cost taxpayers an estimated $627 million in 2008, the most recent figure available (equivalent to a $2 billion value on the retail market).
(Read more:

In a report by our own USDA Economic Research Service on the rising infant formula costs to the WIC program, we read that
  • WIC provides participating infants with free infant formula. This study estimated that between 57 and 68 percent of all infant formula sold in the United States was purchased through WIC, based on 2004-06 data  (Economic Research Report No. (ERR-93) 46 pp, February 2010)

I would like to see my tax dollars used more for educating women on breastfeeding than to handing out formula that is making fat cats fatter. Artificial breast milk was a 19th century invention. CEOs of the ABM industry make millions of dollars per year. Jennifer Coburn, writing for Mothering magazine (Issue 101, July/August 2001) notes that
  • The economic implications of formula are certainly significant. The industry generates $5 to $6 billion in sales each year, and its executives reap huge profits--the CEO of Abbott Labs earns more than $4 million per year; his counterpart at Bristol-Myers Squibb (makers of Enfamil), nearly $13 million. Part of the reason the industry is so profitable is the fact that every dollar formula makers charge their retail distributions outlets costs them a mere 16 cents on production and delivery.

These figures are based only on the cost of formula. It doesn't take into consideration the amount of money a family spends on bottles, bags, etc., or on the medical costs associated with increased illnesses in bottle-fed babies.

La Leche League
Click to be redirected to La Leche League, International's web site, and consider making a donation.


  1. I've heard a lot of good things about La Leche League. Had no idea such a high percentage of infant formula was being purchased through WIC.

  2. I totally agree with you! I have been sooooo disappointed in many of our young people signing up for WIC just because they can. In other words, they don't really need to, the are financially fine. And I am not certain of this, but in our area where there are many many illegals, they don't seem to breast feed as much.


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