5 Ways WIC Works to Improve Child Health

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:

  1. Women who participate in WIC give birth to healthier babies who are more likely to survive infancy.
  2. WIC supports more nutritious diets and better infant feeding practices.
  3. Low-income children participating in WIC are more likely to receive preventive medical care than other low-income children.
  4. Children whose mothers participated in WIC while pregnant scored higher on tests of brain development and later had higher reading scores in school.
  5. 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.

WIC Participation Reduces Risk of Adverse Birth Outcomes