age since the program’s inception in 1972 (Public Law 92-433, section 17 amendment to the Child Nutrition Act of 1966). The development of the new food package regulations relied heavily on the Institute of Medicine report WIC Food Packages: Time for a Change (IOM, 2006). The revisions bring the packages into alignment with the current recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (HHS/USDA, 2005) for more fruits and vegetables and whole grains. The revisions also place a priority on breastfeeding.
The new funding for WIC research is timely for several additional reasons. Much of the research on the outcomes of WIC participation was conducted at least 20 years ago. For example, the seminal WIC–Medicaid Study sponsored by the Food and Nutrition Service (USDA/FNS, 1990), which used data from the years 1987 and 1988, was published in 1990. Over the intervening years WIC has expanded greatly, Medicaid coverage has increased, large changes have occurred in the racial and ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic status of WIC participants as well as in public health services, and obesity rates have increased substantially among the general population.
To guide its planning for the use of the $15 million allocated for WIC research, the Food and Nutrition Service of USDA asked the Institute of Medicine to convene an ad hoc committee to plan and conduct a 2-day public workshop on emerging research needs for WIC. As requested, the workshop was planned to include presentations and discussions that would illuminate issues related to future WIC research issues and methodological challenges and solutions as well as the planning of a program of research to determine the effects of WIC on maternal and child health outcomes and costs.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine held a workshop called “Health Impacts of WIC—Planning a Research Agenda” on July 20–21, 2010. The workshop agenda appears in Appendix A. The seven planning committee members, who are listed in the front matter of this report, served as moderators for the sessions. The workshop opened with remarks by three key figures in the administration and history of the program. This was followed by nine themed sessions featuring 33 expert researchers from multiple fields of study who gave formal presentations or served as discussants or moderators. Information on these researchers is provided in Appendix B. Each session included a period for discussion that was open to all those in attendance. To prepare for the workshop, presenters were given the following guidance:
Considering previous research and research that is currently under way, identify direction(s) for future research related to the session topic.