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WIC Food Packages: Time for a Change
potatoes and other starchy vegetables, fruits, milk and milk products, and meat are all lower than recommended on average. Data are not available on the extent to which fruit juice intake exceeds recommendations.
Low-Income Children Younger Than 2 Years of Age
To identify food-related priorities for infants and children younger than 2 years of age, the committee obtained descriptive information about their food intakes and examined the data in relation to objectives in Healthy People 2010 (DHHS, 2000a, 2000b) and to widely accepted dietary guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dietetic Association, and other selected sources (see Table 2-9).
In 2002, reported breastfeeding rates for WIC participants were about 60 percent in the first week postpartum and 22 to 26 percent at six months (Abbott Laboratories, 2003; Li et al., 2005). These rates are substantially lower than the Healthy People 2010 (DHHS, 2000b) objectives of 75 percent in the early postpartum period and 50 percent at six months.5 Furthermore, rates for WIC participants are about 20 percentage points lower than the rates for non-WIC infants (Abbott Laboratories, 2003; Li et al., 2005).
Much of the dietary guidance related to feeding infants and young children addresses when to introduce foods of different types and feeding a varied, healthful diet to toddlers (see Table 2-9). A study of WIC participants (Bayder et al., 1997) and the Feeding Infants and Toddler Study found that many infants are introduced to foods earlier than recommended. For example, almost 30 percent of infants were fed complementary foods before age four months (Briefel et al., 2004a), and almost 25 percent of infants ages 9 through 11 months were fed cow’s milk (Bayder et al., 1997; Briefel et al., 2004a). Fruit juice intake exceeded recommendations for about 60 percent of the children (Skinner et al., 2004), and non-juice fruit and vegetable consumption was low, with approximately 30 percent of infants and toddlers consuming no fruits or vegetables (Fox et al., 2004). The most common vegetable consumed by toddlers 15 months and older was fried potatoes (Fox et al., 2004). Most caregivers in the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study reported offering a new food to infants or toddlers no more than 3 to 5 times before deciding that their infant or toddler disliked it (Carruth et al., 2004), whereas research suggests 8 to 15 exposures may be necessary for acceptance (Sullivan and Birch, 1994; Birch and Fisher, 1995).
Healthy People 2010 includes the breastfeeding objective of 25 percent of mothers breastfeeding at 12 months postpartum (DHHS, 2000b).