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WIC Food Packages: Time for a Change
before and after the change in the WIC food package. Since many of the changes proposed are expected to increase the consumption of WIC foods, this assumption is not likely to hold. On the other hand, this assumption appears to be better than the assumption that any difference in what is offered leads to a difference in what is consumed, even for those who are not consuming much of what is offered in the first place. In addition, until usual intake data are available after the change in WIC food package, using information on current consumption patterns provides a reasonable starting point.
A second key assumption is that individuals who consume more of a nutrient than is currently offered in the WIC food package will change their consumption by the extent of change in the amount offered by the revised food package relative to the current package. This approach does not account for certain food purchasing and consumption practices. For example, if more of a food is offered in the revised package, a participant may decrease the amount of that food (or of another food) that is bought with her own money but eat the same amount of the food. Similarly, if the amount of an offered food is reduced, the participant may buy more of that food and eat a similar amount. In the absence of data a priori on what changes in intake will result from changes in the food package, the assumption that consumption will change by a proportion of the difference between the current and revised package is a starting assumption.
APPLICATION OF METHODS
The WIC food packages are intended to supplement the diet of specific groups of low-income women, infants, and children. The potential risks and benefits of this intervention can be evaluated in several ways. As detailed in this report, the committee examined how the current and revised packages correspond with the Dietary Guidelines. The committee also evaluated the degree of inadequacy or excess nutrient intake predicted to occur in the participant subpopulations with the current and revised packages. Other benefits of the revised packages, such as the increased variety of foods available and the incentives for breastfeeding, are not quantified. Reliable data were not available to assess intakes of trans fatty acids; however, the amount of trans fatty acids in the current and proposed food packages were estimated and are included in the Appendix C—Nutrient Profiles. The current and revised WIC food packages contain insignificant amounts of industrial trans fats—the source of trans fat deemed to be of concern by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DHHS/USDA, 2004).