Diet, activity, and overweight among preschool-age children enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

Prev Chronic Dis. 2006 Apr;3(2):A49. Epub 2006 Mar 15.

Abstract

Introduction: Overweight is affecting children at younger ages and in increasing numbers, putting them at risk for a lifetime of chronic disease. Consumption of unhealthy foods and time spent watching television have increased concurrently.

Methods: Parents of 526 children aged 2 to 4 years old enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) answered questions about their children's food and beverage consumption, television-viewing and computer time, and physical activity. The children's height and weight measurements were collected from administrative records. Crude and adjusted odds ratios were calculated to test for associations between demographic, consumption, and activity variables and overweight or at risk of overweight (body mass index > or =85th percentile for age and sex).

Results: Of the participants, 38% of the children were overweight or at risk of overweight. Hispanic and white children were twice as likely as black children to be overweight or at risk of overweight. Fifty-eight percent of the children drank more than one and 30% drank more than two 8-oz servings of fruit juice per day. The children who drank more than one serving of nonjuice fruit drink per day (30%) had increased odds of being overweight or at risk of overweight. On average, the children spent more than twice as much time watching television and using computers as they did engaging in physical activity. In multivariate analyses, race and ethnicity as well as physical activity were associated with being overweight or at risk of overweight.

Conclusion: Efforts to improve nutrition and prevent overweight in children should focus on the parents of infants and toddlers and provide them with anticipatory guidance on physical activity for young children and nutrition and food transitions.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Government Programs
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Health Services
  • Overweight*
  • Public Assistance
  • United States