WIC Works! Positive Influence of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) on Diet Quality in Low Income Children
By Zimmer M, Vernarelli J
Poor diet quality is a significant barrier to maintaining a healthy life. The use of federal food and nutrition assistance programs is one strategy to overcoming this barrier by expanding access to healthy foods in low-income communities. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) has the capacity to influence the eating habits of low-income youth. Though previous research has focused on the effect that WIC programming has on purchasing patterns, which is not necessarily reflective of changes in consumption. Data from a nationally representative sample of children age 2 – 5 who participated in the 2011–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) was used for this study. Data regarding WIC utilization was collected at the household level for NHANES participants. Dietary intake was for children younger than six using a proxy. All data were analyzed using SAS 9.4 survey procedures to account for the unequal sampling probability and complex survey design of the NHANES. Children living in households that currently received WIC benefits had higher quality diets than children who did not receive WIC benefits. Compared to income-eligible non-participants, children who are currently receiving WIC benefits have a significantly lower dietary energy density (1.73 vs. 1.86, p=0.0001). Compared to non-WIC participants, children living in a household currently receiving WIC benefits children consumed nearly double the amount of red and orange vegetables (0.04), and significantly fewer teaspoons of added sugars (15 vs. 18 tsp, p=0.002) after controlling for age, sex, race, and household income. The results demonstrate the positive influence WIC participation has on diet quality among low income youth.
November 10, 2017
Zimmer M, Vernarelli J (2017) 'WIC Works! Positive Influence of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) on Diet Quality in Low Income Children'. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal: Vol. 31, Issue 1, Supplement. Available online: http://www.fasebj.org/content/31/1_Supplement/lb461.short