Objective: The present study assessed the impact of the 2009 food packages mandated by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) on dietary intake and home food availability in low-income African-American and Hispanic parent/child dyads.
Design: A natural experiment was conducted to assess if the revised WIC food package altered dietary intake, home food availability, weight and various lifestyle measures immediately (6 months) following policy implementation.
Setting: Twelve WIC clinics in Chicago, IL, USA.
Subjects: Two hundred and seventy-three Hispanic and African-American children aged 2-3 years, enrolled in WIC, and their mothers.
Results: Six months after the WIC food package revisions were implemented, we observed modest changes in dietary intake. Fruit consumption increased among Hispanic mothers (mean = 0·33 servings/d, P = 0·04) and low-fat dairy intake increased among Hispanic mothers (0·21 servings/d, P = 0·02), Hispanic children (0·34 servings/d, P < 0·001) and African-American children (0·24 servings/d, P = 0·02). Home food availability of low-fat dairy and whole grains also increased. Dietary changes, however, varied by racial/ethnic group. Changes in home food availability were not significantly correlated with changes in diet.
Conclusions: The WIC food package revisions are one of the first efforts to modify the nutrition guidelines that govern foods provided in a federal food and nutrition assistance programme. It will be important to examine the longer-term impact of these changes on dietary intake and weight status.