In 2009, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) revised its food packages to align with updated nutrition science. Understanding how these revisions may impact current consumption patterns could be important.
Dietary data from the 2011–2014 NHANES were used to estimate the percentage of children who were aged 12 to 23 months consuming selected food and beverage categories on any given day by age and WIC status (children who were on WIC, those who were eligible for but not receiving WIC benefits, and those who were not eligible for WIC).
Consumption of food and beverage categories differed by WIC status. On a given day, a lower percentage of children who were eligible for but did not receive WIC benefits consumed vegetables (excluding white potatoes; 42.3%) and grains (76.5%) compared with children who were participating in WIC (vegetables [excluding white potatoes]: 60.4%; grains: 85.5%) and those who were not eligible for WIC benefits (vegetables [excluding white potatoes]: 58.1%; grains: 87.2%; P < .05). A lower percentage of both children who were eligible for but not receiving WIC benefits and those who were participating in WIC consumed fruits (57.6% and 70.6%, respectively) and snacks (45.9% and 48.5%, respectively) than those who were not eligible for WIC (fruits: 86.4%; snacks: 69.1%; P < .05). A lower percentage of children who were receiving WIC consumed dairy than children who were not eligible for WIC (91.7% and 97.2%, respectively; P < .05). A higher percentage of those who were receiving WIC consumed 100% juice (70.6%) than children who were eligible for but not receiving WIC (51.6%) and children who were not eligible for WIC (50.8%; P < .05).
Improving early WIC participation and retention could positively impact some diet-related disparities among young children who are eligible for WIC.