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Changes in WIC Program Linked to Decreased Obesity in Children

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

M. Pia Chaparro, MS, PhDAssistant ProfessorDepartment of Global Community Health and Behavioral SciencesSchool of Public Health and Tropical MedicineTulane UniversityNew Orleans, LA 70112

Dr. Chaparro

M. Pia Chaparro, MS, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences
School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
Tulane University
New Orleans, LA 70112

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In 2009, the WIC program changed the food packages participants receive to better align them with federal dietary guidelines. These changes included the addition of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; a reduction in the amount of dairy and juice; and a calibration in formula amounts to match infants’ age and needs.

We found that this change in the food package was associated with a 10-12% lower obesity risk at age 4 years among children who participated in WIC in Los Angeles County continuously from birth until age 4.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Increasing access to nutritious foods early in life could have a positive effect on children’s growth and reduce obesity risk. This is good news for policymakers and stakeholders who worked on introducing these food package changes, the first since the WIC program inception in the 1970’s. Results could also help policymakers considering further improvements on the WIC food packages. 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research should attempt to replicate our findings in other locations. Further, future studies should identify the mechanisms by which the receipt of the new food package decreased obesity risk. 

Any disclosures?

This study was a collaboration between Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and PHFE WIC – a program of Heluna Health. The study was funded by the American Heart Association.


The 2009 Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food package change and children’s growth trajectories and obesity in Los Angeles County

M Pia Chaparro Catherine M Crespi Christopher E Anderson May C WangShannon E Whaley

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, nqy347,https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy347

Published: 23 April 2019

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Last Updated on April 23, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD