Significant changes that made a federal food voucher program more nutritious for low-income families and children resulted in reducing the risk of obesity among 4-year-old children who had been part of the program since infancy, according to a new study .
The study published Tuesday (April 23) in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition is among the first to look at the impact of the food package changes made by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) 2009 on obesity rates among children participating in the program
WIC food packages provide supplemental foods designed to meet the nutritional needs of low-income pregnant, breast-feeding, non-breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to five years of age. age. In 2009, the WIC food package changed significantly to provide more nutritious options to beneficiaries. Some of the changes include the addition of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; and a reduction in the amount of milk, juice, cheese, and eggs offered.
“Our results suggest that changes in a children's diet early in life could have a positive effect on their growth and reduce obesity risk, which would be informative for policy makers for further improvements to the WIC program, ”said Pia Chaparro, assistant professor of nutrition at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
Her team and researchers with the University of California Los Angeles School of Public Health, worked with Los Angeles-based health program PHFE WIC, to examine health and population data from more than 1
age 4, compared to children who receive a full dose of the old food package.
The sharpest differences between the two groups began to develop at six months of age, according to the study.
Exposed to the new food package, compared to the old one, was much stronger during the six months to 1 year age range, and this difference between the two groups during this age interval was large enough to have children in the new food package group on a healthier growth trajectory through age 4, "said Chaparro.