Researchers-Study-Impact-of-Changes-to-WIC-Package-on-New-Orleans-Food-Environment-

Researchers Study Impact of Changes to WIC Package on New Orleans Food Environment

Researchers at the Prevention Research Center (PRC) at Tulane University are examining whether healthy changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) influence the food supply in WIC-authorized and non-WIC stores throughout New Orleans.

The addition of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and reduced-fat milk to the WIC package led researchers to question if changes in demand among WIC recipients would result in an increased supply of these items in both WIC and non-WIC food stores throughout the city. Of particular interest are the small corner stores that are common to many low-income urban neighborhoods, and that are often times resistant to change.

Baseline data was collected from August-September 2009 from WIC-authorized stores and non-WIC stores throughout the city before the changes to the WIC package were implemented on October 1, 2009. A follow-up survey of these same food stores, 171 in total, was conducted in September-October 2010.

Researchers surveyed the availability, prices, quality, shelf space and stocking requirements for WIC-package foods and other items including canned fruits and vegetables, frozen vegetables, salty snacks, doughnuts and pastries, cookies and crackers, carbonated beverages, candy and beer.

"In New Orleans and across the United States, Americans, particularly those living in low-income neighborhoods, are faced with difficult access to the nutritious foods they want and need," said Diego Rose, Director of the Tulane PRC. "Policy changes like those to the WIC package present critical opportunities to reshape our food landscape and begin to reverse the nation's obesity epidemic."

Established as a pilot program in 1972, WIC provides federal money to states for supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition counseling and education to low-income women, infants and children who are at nutritional risk. Advances in nutrition knowledge, changing dietary patterns and the nation's obesity epidemic led to a series of recommended changes to the WIC package by the Institute of Medicine.

The WIC package contents are now more closely aligned with the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and infant feeding practice guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Beyond the inclusion of fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat milk and whole wheat bread, the revised WIC food package features less saturated fat, cholesterol, total fat and sodium.

Topics:   food environment , obesity , wic , snap

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