Background: In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) implemented revisions to the composition and quantities of WIC-provided foods. New whole-grain products such as whole-wheat bread and allowable substitutes were added to encourage increased intake of whole grains and fiber among WIC participants.
Purpose: This paper assesses how the WIC revisions affected purchases of bread and rice among WIC-participating households in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Methods: Scanner data from a regional supermarket chain were used to examine bread and rice purchases of 2137 WIC households. Purchased volume of bread and rice was compared before and after implementation of the WIC revisions (2009-2010) using generalized estimating equation models. Data were analyzed in 2013.
Results: Before the WIC revisions, when no bread or rice was provided through WIC, white bread dominated bread purchases among WIC households (78% of volume), and almost all rice purchased was white (94%). As a result of the WIC revisions, the share of 100% whole-grain bread in total bread purchases tripled (from 8% to 24%), replacing purchases of white bread; the share of brown rice rose to 30% of rice purchases. WIC households used WIC benefits to change some of their bread purchases, rather than to buy more bread overall, whereas total rice purchases increased.
Conclusions: The 2009 WIC revisions significantly increased purchases of whole-grain bread and rice among WIC-participating families. The likely increase in whole-grain and fiber intake among low-income communities could have important public health implications.
© 2013 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.