potential benefits through improved consistency with the Dietary Guidelines and dietary guidance for those younger than 2 years of age.

This is not a complete assessment of risk and benefits in that it is not feasible to estimate what long-term health benefits and risks would be associated with a change in specific foods offered in the WIC program. Assuming that the recommendations in this report are adopted at the federal level, those benefits and risks would depend upon many factors, including the following:

  • The extent to which the WIC state agencies allow local agencies to prescribe the maximum amounts of food in the revised food packages;

  • The extent to which the WIC state agencies incorporate more allowed choices in the food package offerings;

  • The success of approaches to nutrition education that address the revised food packages;

  • The extent of redemption of the WIC food instruments for the revised packages;

  • Whether the entire amount of food in the package is consumed by the WIC participant; and

  • The association of consuming those foods with long-term health benefits.

Notably, the committee used current dietary guidance from the Dietary Guidelines and Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) when redesigning the food packages, and these sources incorporate information on reduced risk of chronic diseases into their dietary guidance. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 “provide science-based advice [for people two years and older] to promote health and to reduce risk for chronic diseases through diet and physical activity” (DHHS/USDA, 2005, p. 1). The DRIs are intended to minimize the risk of nutrient inadequacy (including both classical deficiency states and the reduction of the risk of chronic disease and disorders) or nutrient excess and are intended to be applied to the healthy general population in the United States and Canada (IOM, 1997). Thus, the more closely that diets adhere to current dietary guidance, the greater the likelihood that they will result in long-term health benefits.


The method for evaluating nutritional benefits and risks associated with changes in the WIC food packages is a modification of the risk assess-

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