TUESDAY, April 30, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food packages in 2009 to better align food options with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans appear to be associated with improved childhood obesity outcomes in young children, according to a study published online April 23 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
M. Pia Chaparro, Ph.D., from Tulane University in New Orleans, and colleagues evaluated whether the 2009 WIC food package change was associated with changes in growth trajectories for children aged 0 to 4 years or obesity at age 4 years among children enrolled in WIC in Los Angeles County (2003 to 2016). Children were matched across food exposure groups based on gender, race/ethnicity, maternal education and language, family income, and initial weight status.
The researchers found that children receiving a full dose (from birth through age 4 years) of the new food package had healthier growth trajectories and lower obesity risk at age 4 than children receiving a full dose of the old food package (relative risk, 0.88 for boys; relative risk, 0.9 for girls). In the late-dose groups (participating in WIC from ages 2 to 4 years), boys, but not girls, in the new food package group had lower obesity risk at age 4 years versus boys in the late-dose, old food package group (relative risk, 0.89).
“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,” Chaparro said in a statement.