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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Tulane: Study Finds Improved WIC Food Packages Reduced Obesity Risk for Children

Sweeping changes designed to make a major federal food assistance program more nutritious for low-income families were effective in reducing obesity risk for 4-year-olds who had been on the program since birth, according to a new study by researchers from Tulane University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and PHFE WIC.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionis among the first to use a rigorous research design to demonstrate the impact of major food package changes made by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children(WIC) in 2009 on obesity risk and growth trajectories for different groups of children receiving the program. It is the most comprehensive study of the impact of these changes on obesity risk in Los Angeles County where over half of all children under age 5 are enrolled in WIC.

“Our study shows that improving nutrition quality made a measurable impact in lowering obesity risk for children receiving the new food package compared to those receiving the old,” said lead author Dr. Pia Chaparro, assistant professor of nutrition at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. “Our results suggest that changes in children’s diet early in life could have a positive effect on their growth and reduce obesity risk, which could be informative for policymakers considering further improvements to the WIC program.”

WIC overhauled food packages to make them more healthful by adding fruits, vegetables and whole grains and reducing the amount of juice, milk and cheese.

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