Low-income children receiving federal food packages are eating more green vegetables and whole grains since changes were made to the program in 2009, a new study found.
They also are eating more nutritious foods than low-income peers who aren’t receiving packages from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).Low-income children receiving federal food packages are eating more green vegetables and whole grains since changes were made to the program.
“Though the WIC fruit and vegetable voucher can ultimately supply only a modest number of servings of green vegetables in a given calendar month, this small dollar amount appeared to have — for many children in the WIC program — translated to consumption of ‘some instead of none,’” authors said in the report “Revised WIC Food Package and Children’s Diet Quality” (Tester JM, et al. Pediatrics. April 7, 2016, http://bit.ly/1VbSBf7).
In 2009, federal officials added more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to the WIC food package. They also included milk with less fat and decreased the amount of juice.
Researchers analyzed data from 24-hour diet recall interviews on low-income 2- to 4-year-olds before and after new food packages went into effect. To score children’s diets, they used the Healthy Eating Index 2010, which includes 12 components and a maximum of 100 points.
Before the new food packages, mean scores were 52.4 for WIC participants and 50 for non-participants. In 2011-’12, mean scores were 58.3 for WIC participants and 52.4 for non-participants.
Researchers saw the largest gains in scores for WIC participants in the areas of greens and beans (adjusted increase of 111%), whole grains (adjusted increase of 64%) and fatty acids (adjusted increase of 47%), according to the study.
While consumption of greens and beans rose for WIC participants, it declined for non-participants. Whole fruit scores for WIC participants did not increase significantly compared to non-participants.