Thirty-one states and three U.S. territories reported declines in obesity rates among young children from low-income families.

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.

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Connecticut
  6. Florida
  7. Georgia
  8. Guam
  9. Indiana
  10. Iowa
  11. Kansas
  12. Kentucky
  13. Louisiana
  14. Maryland
  15. Massachusetts
  16. Michigan
  17. Minnesota
  18. Missouri
  19. Nevada
  20. New Jersey
  21. New Mexico
  22. New York
  23. Northern Mariana Islands
  24. Oklahoma
  25. Oregon
  26. Puerto Rico
  27. South Carolina
  28. Tennessee
  29. Texas
  30. Utah
  31. Virginia
  32. Washington
  33. Wisconsin
  34. Wyoming

Originally posted on February 5, 2018.

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