Abstract: Objective: The goals of this study were to assess the impact of recent changes in the WIC allotment on fruit intake, dietary quality/adequacy, energy/nutrient intakes, and potential impact of the complete removal of 100% fruit juice (FJ) from the package.
Methods: 24-hour recalls from children 1-4 years who were WIC participants or income-eligible nonparticipants in the NHANES 2007-2008 and 2011-2014 (before and after WIC package changes) were analyzed.
Results: There were no differences in the Healthy Eating Index-2015 total score; subcomponent scores for “greens and beans” and for “fatty acid ratio” were higher in 2011-2014 than in 2007-2008 in children participating in WIC; scores for “sodium” were higher in 2011-2014 than in 2007-2008 in children not participating in WIC but income-eligible. In WIC participants mean intakes of riboflavin, vitamins B12 and C, and zinc were significantly (p<0.01) lower, and intake of vitamin E was significantly (p<0.01) higher in 2011-2014 compared to 2007-2008. One significant difference in nutrient adequacy in children was that of a lower (p<0.01) percentage of inadequacy for WIC participants for vitamin E and a higher (p<0.01) percentage of inadequacy for WIC participants for vitamin A in 2011-2014 as compared to those in 2007-2008. The elimination of FJ from the WIC food packages resulted in a 38-50% lower total fruit intake and a 4-5% reduction in total HEI-2015 score.
Conclusion: Changes in the WIC program resulted in potential adverse effects on mean intakes of some nutrients but not on the nutrient adequacy or overall diet quality. Confirmatory studies are needed.
Keywords: WIC program, dietary intake, children, NHANES, fruit juice.