Impact of Policy Change on Feeding Practices of Infants and Toddlers in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in San Marcos, TX
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In 2009, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) modified food packages to address rising rates of child obesity and sub-optimal duration of breastfeeding and offer foods that are more compatible with current dietary guidelines. We collected 24-hour recalls (using Nutrition Data System for Research) and feeding practices data from 97 caregivers of infants (4-12 mo) and toddlers (1-2 y) in 2009 (pre-policy change) and from 121 caregivers in 2011 (post-policy change) in order to compare feeding practices. Results revealed some positive trends between the two study years, including fewer infants receiving cereal, more infants receiving breast milk, and more infants being ever breastfed in 2011 compared to 2009, as well as positive changes that were significant, including later introduction of formula and fewer caregivers adding cereal to infant bottles in 2011 compared to 2009. However, there were also findings that were in the reverse direction of the WIC package changes, including the trend towards more infants receiving complementary foods before 6 months, and more infants receiving juice before 4 months. Our results indicate that, in this community, the WIC policy change was helpful but not sufficient to bring feeding practices into compliance with existing guidelines. This research met all Institutional Review Board guidelines and was supported by a Texas State University research enhancement grant.