This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Protecting and promoting the health of WIC participants by providing nutritious food packages and information about healthy eating remains a top priority for the experts who recently gathered at the September WIC conference in Atlanta.
WIC has made significant progress, growing from serving 88,000 participants in its first year, to over 8 million per month in 2013.1 Yet understanding how to combat top health challenges, especially the obesity epidemic, continues to be a work in progress. At this month’s WIC conference, I was particularly inspired to hear Ellyn Satter, MS, RD, author of the Division of Responsibility in Feeding, discuss her holistic approach to educating children and adults in an effort to prevent obesity. Few would argue with her emphasis on the need to establish a transition feeding plan that defines the roles of parents and children when progressing from breastfeeding to bottle and/or solid foods. I find her approach of considering emotional, social, and nutritional perspectives as both motivating and practical. By promoting the early adoption of healthy eating routines like Ellyn Satter’s, we can continue to help individuals and families make informed choices that positively affect their lifelong dietary patterns.
WIC will continue to provide participants with foods rich in protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C – nutrients found to be lacking in the diets of pregnant women, infants and children. And the WIC package continues to evolve in response to new research and recommendations from nutrition and food experts that reflect how our food choices are evolving. The most recent change occurred this past March with the addition of yogurt as a partial substitute for milk, more whole grain and fish options for women and children, as well as additional fresh fruits and vegetables for children.2 In early 2015 the new change to the WIC package launches, with the addition of yogurt in response to recommendations from the Institute of Medicine.
All of the messages we continue to hear from leaders in our field about promoting healthier lifestyles and better nutrition leave me thinking about how we can translate this knowledge into sustained behavior. As the dietary guidelines for 2015 are underway, let’s make sure to recognize the important role that federal feeding programs like WIC play in helping Americans build and sustain a lifetime of healthy eating behaviors.
Mark your calendars to join us tomorrow, Wednesday, October 1st at 1 and 2pm (EDT) for this complimentary 1-credit continuing education webinar. Connie Brown-Riggs will serve as the moderator for this session, which will cover symptoms, causes and diagnosis of lactose intolerance. Toby Amidor’s presentation will by provide insights and advice for nutrition professionals working with patients who manage this condition.
Dr. Keith Ayoob will present top trends in healthy snacking at the 2014 Food & Nutrition Conference & Exposition next month in Atlanta. Dr. Ayoob will address snacking as a part of our eating behavior, and the importance of choosing nutrient rich snacks in order to help meet dietary guidelines. Yogurt plays an important role when it comes to healthy snacking, as it pairs well with fruits, vegetables and whole grains while providing nutrients of concern such as calcium, potassium and vitamin D. To hear more from Dr. Ayoob, click here to register to attend FNCE.
On November 20, the Food Innovation Center at The Ohio State University will provide an in-depth look at the development and implications of the 2015 dietary guidelines. Leaders in health and nutrition will discuss food as a driver of positive health outcomes, review successful public health behavior change implementations and share consumer food innovation ideas from the food industry and institutional settings. Visit the website to view the agenda and click here to register today to attend The New Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Preparing for the 2015 Release.