Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Nutrition is an important part of public health

During National Nutrition Month, we recognize the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which is funded by the USDA Food and Nutrition Services. WIC provides checks for supplemental foods, health care and social service referrals, breastfeeding promotion and support and nutrition education to low-income and nutritionally at risk, pregnant, post-partum and breastfeeding women, and to infants and children up to age five.

Studies have shown the WIC Program has a positive impact in the following health outcomes:
  • Reducing premature births 
  • Reducing low and very low birth-weight babies 
  • Reducing fetal and infant deaths 
  • Reducing the incidence of low-iron anemia 
  • Increasing access to prenatal care earlier in pregnancy 
  • Increasing pregnant women’s consumption of key nutrients such as iron, protein, calcium, and Vitamins A and C 
  • Increasing immunization rates 
  • Improving diet quality 
  • Increasing access to regular health care 
In Maine, WIC local agency clinic services are contracted statewide in each of the eight public health districts. Clinic services include: program eligibility, income verification, nutrition assessment and education, breast feeding education, hemoglobin screening, anthropometrics, referrals, and checks for healthy foods.

The average monthly participation in Maine is approximately 20,000. The projected cost of food per participant for federal fiscal year 2016 is $59.45 per month. More than three-quarters of women who accessed the program in federal fiscal year 2016 initiated breastfeeding, with more than one-third breastfeeding longer than three months and more than one-quarter breastfeeding longer than six months. More than 16 percent of WIC children ages two through five who had been overweight are now at a healthy weight.