Research in 2014 found increasing evidence that a person’s nutrition and physical activity in the first 5 years of life has a huge impact on the person’s weight and health status as an adult. One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine this year suggested that overweight 5-year-olds are 300% more likely to become obese later in life.
That makes our Women Infant and Children program a critical leverage point in turning the tide on obesity. WIC focuses on the nutritional and overall health of families with kids aged 0-5. In 2009 we moved to a healthier food package, and we’ve ramped up our nutrition assessment and education activities with evidence based practices.
In 2014 we got some encouraging performance measures in from WIC suggesting that our efforts are paying off. Our initiatives have resulted in a decrease in overweight 2-5 year old WIC participants from 14% in 2011 to 13.3% in 2013. Obese WIC participants 2-5 years old decreased from 13.2% in 2011 to 12.4% in 2013. The percentage of WIC moms who breastfed at least 6 months also increased from 25.7% in 2011 to 27.1% in 2013.