Consumption of foods from the WIC food packages of Chinese prenatal patients on the US west coast

J Am Diet Assoc. 1999 Dec;99(12):1549-53. doi: 10.1016/S0002-8223(99)00379-X.


Objective: To assess consumption of foods from food packages provided by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) among 80 Chinese prenatal WIC recipients living in Oakland or San Francisco, Calif.

Design: During a single interview, a food frequency questionnaire was used to assess WIC food consumption by the prenatal patients for the period before and after receipt of WIC vouchers.

Setting: The study was conducted at Asian Health Services, Oakland, and the Chinatown Public Health Center of the San Francisco Department of Public Health in California.

Subjects: Eighty low-income Chinese prenatal women with limited education and limited ability to speak English, aged 21 to 43 years, with gestational stages of 15 to 38 weeks.

Statistical analyses performed: Descriptive statistics (frequency and percent distribution) were used to report the findings of the study.

Results: Subjects reported that before receiving WIC vouchers, milk, eggs, and juice were the only foods in their WIC food package that had been consumed frequently (> 5 times/week) in their daily diet. Other WIC foods, including cheese, peanut butter, dried beans, and hot and cold cereals, were consumed infrequently (0 to 1 time/month). Subjects reported that with the availability of WIC vouchers, milk, eggs, and juice remained frequently consumed with 81% to 100% of monthly supply as the most prevalent reported consumption rate. Dried beans and hot and cold cereals were also consumed frequently. Cheese remained poorly consumed (0% to 20% of the monthly supply). As many as 74 of 80 subjects stated that they had shared foods from their own WIC package, except milk, with their families. The use of any WIC foods provided to other children in the family was not assessed in this study.

Applications: Data from this study indicate that most WIC foods were well used by Chinese prenatal patients. The most notable exception was cheese, which was poorly consumed. The ready consumption of milk by pregnant Chinese WIC recipients in this study suggests that milk may be readily consumed by these women, even though it is atypical of the Asian diet. The WIC food package for Chinese prenatal patients may be improved by omitting cheese and substituting more milk and/or foods such as tofu and dark green leafy vegetables.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • California
  • Cheese
  • China / ethnology
  • Counseling
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Eating*
  • Edible Grain
  • Eggs
  • Fabaceae
  • Female
  • Food Services*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Milk
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Poverty
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Yin-Yang*