Objective: To evaluate nutrient, food intake, and snacking behavior by participation in the WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) program.
Study design: Secondary data analysis of a nationally representative cross-sectional survey conducted by USDA in 1994 to 1996 and 1998.
Methods: Statistical analysis was performed correcting for sample design effects and weighting for children in two income groups (<130%, n=1772 and 130% to 185% of poverty, n=689).
Results: Among WIC participants, the prevalence of snacking was significantly lower (68%) compared with nonparticipants (72%) (chi(2)=5.9, P=.01). For those <130% of poverty, WIC had a beneficial effect on the intake of fat, carbohydrates, added sugar, and fruit from the total diet as well as on added sugar from snacks. These were independent of food stamp participation. For those with higher incomes, the beneficial effects were limited to added sugar, iron density, and fruit intake for the total diet. A similar significant effect of decreased added sugar intake from snacks was also seen.
Conclusions: Our results are in line with previous research showing beneficial effects of WIC participation among preschoolers, primarily for nutrients targeted by the program. This study shows that the effect can reach beyond those targeted nutrients.