The food packages designed to supplement the diets of low-income individuals through the USDA's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) have remained largely unchanged since the program was started in 1974. As a first step toward determining if changes are needed to strengthen the nutritional quality of the WIC food packages, an IOM committee has evaluated the dietary intakes of the WIC-eligible population.
The findings are summarized in the committee's preliminary report, Proposed Criteria For Selecting the WIC Food Packages. In the first phase of the project described in this preliminary report, the committee considered evidence of three major types:
- Analyses of nutrient intakes using data from national surveys of dietary intake-These analyses compared intake data for low-income survey subjects to the most recent dietary standards (the Dietary Reference Intakes), and identified nutrient inadequacies as well as potentially excessive intakes.
- Evaluation of food intakes using published information showing how well the diets of low-income survey subjects conform to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Food Guide Pyramid, and
- Identification of nutrition-related health risks and outcomes for women, infants, and children from the scientific medical literature.
The report outlines which nutrients and food groups should receive priority attention during the second phase of the project as the committee develops specific recommendations for changes in the WIC food packages that will be described in a second report to be released next year.