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International Research Project: How can breastfeeding be promoted in Germany?

30/2017, 30.08.2017

The National Breastfeeding Committee at the BfR is participating in the research project "Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly"

The current situation regarding the promotion of breastfeeding in Germany is being evaluated in a two-year project. The goal is to develop evidence-based packages of measures in order to support the development and implementation of national breastfeeding programmes. The project "Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly" is being conducted at the initiative of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) by the Gesund ins Leben network at the Federal Centre for Nutrition (BZfE) and National Breastfeeding Committee at the German German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), in cooperation with Yale University.

Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world and breast milk is the ideal nutrition for infants: easily digestible, hygienically perfect and always at the right temperature. Despite this, many women do not breastfeed at all or stop doing so after only a few months. The promotion and support of breastfeeding is necessary due to the comparatively low breastfeeding rates in Germany, but there is currently no comprehensive overview of the structures, actors and measures involved in the promotion of breastfeeding in Germany. Therefore the present project aimed to investigate where effective, efficient and sustainable measures to promote breastfeeding should be applied. To this end, the current situation regarding the promotion of breastfeeding in Germany has to be ascertained. The findings made will then be used for the planning, initiation and accompaniment of measures and campaigns to promote and protect breastfeeding.

The eight-gear cogwheel model, the so-called Breastfeeding Gear Model, developed at Yale University serves as the foundation for systematic appraisal in this project. The model comprises the eight cogwheels: Advocacy (social approval), Political Will, Legislation & Policies, Funding & Resources, Training & Programme Delivery, Promotion, Research & Evaluation, as well as Coordination, Goals & Monitoring, which reflect all of the fields of action and actors in the context of breastfeeding. With the help of defined criteria, all of the activities relevant to the promotion of breastfeeding are collected and evaluated for each area by a panel of experts. The result will be a country-specific index value which will also enable an international comparison of a country’s breastfeeding promotion.

More detailed information on the Yale University project “Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly: A Guide to Global Scale-Up (BBF)” is available at:

More information on the Gesund ins Leben network is available here:

About the National Breastfeeding Committee at the BfR

The National Breastfeeding Committee was founded in 1994 with the aim of promoting a new breastfeeding culture in the Federal Republic of Germany and helping to ensure that breastfeeding becomes the normal form of nutrition for infants. The Committee is composed of members of medical professional associations and organisations who are committed to the issue of breastfeeding in Germany. You can find more information on the work of the National Breastfeeding Committee on the Internet at:

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

The BfR is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, the institute has published a jubilee brochure (in German) which can be downloaded or ordered free of charge at http://www.bfr.bund.de/en/publication/brochures-61045.html.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

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