Obesity rates drop among young children from low-income families
Thirty-one states and three U.S. territories report declines in obesity among 2- to 4-year old WIC participants
WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, provides healthy foods and nutrition education to pregnant women, mothers, and children under age 5. The program currently serves roughly half of all infants born in the United States. A 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that obesity rates among preschool children enrolled in WIC have declined in recent years.
In 2014, 14.5 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds enrolled in WIC had obesity, down from 15.9 percent in 2010. During this period rates decreased in 31 states and three territories, increased in four states, and remained stable in the rest. Rates of severe obesity also decreased among this population—from 2.12 percent in 2010 to 1.96 percent in 2014.
Authors from the CDC noted a few reasons that might have contributed to the declines, including:
- Updates to the package of foods included in WIC, made in 2009 to better align them with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- The 2009 updates also included revisions to promote and support breastfeeding.
- General increases in awareness of the importance of preventing obesity at an early age, and federal support for state efforts to improve nutrition, physical activity, breastfeeding support and screen time limits in early childhood education programs.
- In a separate study, researchers from the University of North Carolina found that, after revisions to the WIC food package, families participating in WIC purchased food that contained significantly fewer calories, and less sodium, fat and sugar, than the food families bought before the revisions.
The states and territories that measured obesity declines are listed below.
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Northern Mariana Islands
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina
Originally posted on February 5, 2018.More Signs of Progress