Academic journal article Agricultural and Resource Economics Review

The Impact of Policy Changes on Milk and Beverage Consumption of Texas WIC Children

Academic journal article Agricultural and Resource Economics Review

The Impact of Policy Changes on Milk and Beverage Consumption of Texas WIC Children

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Improving the nutritional well-being of the low-income population is one of the primary objectives of United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) fifteen domestic food assistance programs. The third largest of these, in terms of total expenditure, is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which targets low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age five. The WIC program provides supplemental foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and referrals to health and social services for its participants. To expand the selection of foods the program offered and help combat the problem of obesity, the WIC food packages were revised in 2007, and the changes were implemented in 2009. The revised food packages were designed to contribute to an overall dietary pattern that is consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as well as to ensure that foods are readily acceptable, widely available, and commonly consumed by the target population (Institute of Medicine 2006, USDA 2007).

Some of the major changes in the revised WIC food packages were the reduction in the total amount of milk and the removal of whole milk from food packages offered to women and children of ages two through four years (Table 1). Texas allowed the purchase of 2% milk after the changes in WIC food packages for children ages two through four. However, effective October 1, 2014, only 1%, ½% and fat-free milks were allowed. Furthermore, 100% juices continued to be included in the food packages but were offered in reduced amounts. Juice allowances for children were reduced by more than half (from 288 ounces to 128 ounces per month). Although it is well known that some of the most commonly consumed beverages have a high caloric content and may contribute to the current obesity epidemic, relatively few studies have examined dietary patterns of children with regard to beverage consumption. Beverages contribute a notable amount of calories to the diet of individuals. It is critical to understand the descriptive patterns of beverage consumption of children in order to help design intervention strategies to promote healthier beverage consumption in specific higher-risk subgroups.

The objective of this paper is to examine the effect of policy changes to the WIC food packages on the milk and beverage consumption of children. Specifically, we center our attention on whole, 2%, 1%, and skim milk, 100% juices and other sugar- and artificially sweetened beverages consumed by Texas WIC-participating children of ages two through four years. This study contributes to the existing literature by analyzing data from before and after revision of WIC food packages. Using data from the Texas Food and Nutrition Survey for WIC (TEXFAN), we analyzed the effect of the removal of whole milk as well as the reduction in the total amount of milk and 100% juices provided by WIC on the type and on the amount of milk consumed and nutrient intake (calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, protein, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin D) from milk by WIC children. We also investigated if the aforementioned changes in WIC affected the consumption frequency of 100% juices, and sugar-sweetened and artificially sweetened beverages consumed by WIC children.

Why Texas? Today, the WIC program serves a culturally diverse population with a wide range of traditional food preferences. In this regard, Texas is one of the most culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse states in the United States. As the second largest state in the nation, with a population of over 25 million, the size and scope of Texas poses unique challenges due to the rapidly changing demographics and cultural diversity. Hispanics are the fastest-growing population in Texas. In 2011, 38.1 percent of Texans were Hispanic, in contrast to 32 percent in 2000. …

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