During March, National Nutrition Month, USDA will highlight various nutrition topics that are near and dear to our hearts. We don’t work on these issues alone however. This guest blog post acknowledges the important contribution of the Nation WIC Association and their role in supporting a healthier next generation.
Guest post by
Douglas A. Greenaway, Executive Director of the National WIC Association
This year, during National Nutrition Month, we at the National WIC Association (NWA) are celebrating WIC’s 40th Anniversary, and also rejoicing in recent events that underscore the importance of WIC’s nutrition services for our nation’s health:
- Expanded access to fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy for mothers and young children. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the Final Rule confirming critical public health changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) that further improve the nutrition and health of the nation’s low-income mothers and young children. We applaud USDA for implementing science based decisions that increase access to fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy.
- A 43 percent decrease in obesity rates among children aged 2 to 5 years. The recent study, ‘Prevalence of Childhood and Adult Obesity in the United States, 2011-2012,’ published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on February 26 showed that public health efforts, including those within WIC, may be working to reduce childhood obesity.
WIC is designed to influence lifetime nutrition and health behaviors and improve health outcomes by providing nutrition education, healthy foods, breastfeeding support, and healthcare referrals to nearly 9 million low-income mothers and young children monthly, including 53% of all infants born in the U.S. Since its inception in 1974, WIC has consistently and successfully improved health outcomes in the population it serves.
A cornerstone of the WIC Program is nutrition education. Registered dietitians and nutritionists help families develop lifelong healthy eating habits through one-on-one counseling and group classes, learning kiosks, social-media, and on-line tools where they learn:
- Shopping for healthy foods on a budget
- Cooking healthy, delicious meals
- What to eat during pregnancy and breastfeeding
- How to feed infants and growing kids healthy foods
One WIC participant in Arizona shared how WIC’s nutrition education positively affected her family’s health:
“We have a history of obesity and diabetes back to our grandparents and being a part of the WIC program has helped change this repetitive course to structuring a healthy life style. There is education coming from schools, health centers, and local community outreach programs, but not like the WIC Programs who deal directly with the foundations of life. Educating and nourishing life from pregnancy to toddlers, and making sure the caregivers involved have the same knowledge as the parents to raise and incorporate a healthier lifestyle.” – WIC participant, AZ
For National Nutrition Month, we’re focusing on WIC’s nutrition education. We’ve created a short animated video clip to illustrate what WIC does and how it has been a trusted resource for decades, helping to strengthen families’ healthy eating habits for generations to come. Help us bring awareness to the value of WIC’s nutrition education services by sharing the video!
The invaluable nutrition education and healthy foods provided by WIC help play an integral role in putting nutritious foods on the plates of young children, and have increased access to healthier food across the nation. Improving healthy eating habits will only benefit families in generations to come: with more fruits and vegetables on the table, we can help combat obesity and obesity-related diseases.
The National WIC Association’s theme for the 40th Anniversary of WIC—WIC: Strengthening Families for 40 Years—helps showcase how the WIC Program is one of our country’s most important public health programs, and how it has enriched the lives of millions of families over the years.