It is a well-documented reality that children in low-income or food insecure households are generally less healthy than other kids. Early childhood, in particular, is an important time when a healthy diet can make a big difference for a person’s lifelong well-being. That’s why proven-effective programs that reach low-income families with very young kids with healthy foods and nutrition education – such as the Supplemental Nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) – are so necessary.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a research and advocacy organization, recently released a report that outlines just how well WIC works for mothers and children. The paper, WIC Works: Addressing the Nutrition and Health Needs of Low-Income Families for 40 Years, summarizes four decades of research that demonstrates WIC’s effectiveness.
Here are five key ways that WIC is proven to improve child health:
- Women who participate in WIC give birth to healthier babies who are more likely to survive infancy.
- WIC supports more nutritious diets and better infant feeding practices.
- Low-income children participating in WIC are more likely to receive preventive medical care than other low-income children.
- Children whose mothers participated in WIC while pregnant scored higher on tests of brain development and later had higher reading scores in school.
- The specific set of foods provided by WIC, or the WIC food package, has improved access to fruits, vegetables and whole grains in low-income neighborhoods – for everyone who lives there.
These are life-saving benefits that make a real difference for millions of women and children. WIC effectively improves health at critical points in a child’s development – in utero, during infancy, and during the earliest years. This sets kids on the right course for a lifetime of good health, educational achievement, and prosperity.