First of all: Happy World Breastfeeding Week!!! Along with that, this week is also the first ever National WIC Breastfeeding Week.
I love the concept of the WIC program. The Supplementary Food For Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is supposed to increase access to healthy food for low-income pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, babies and children under 5. The problem is that some of the food options may actually be doing more harm than good…
Juice is actually a risk factor for diabetes
WIC gives $8.00 in cash vouchers for canned/frozen/fresh fruits and/or veggies for children and $11.00 for women. You can also get roughly 1 gallon of juice every month. But here’s the problem with juice:
“Conversely, those who consumed one or more servings of fruit juice each day increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 21 percent. The researchers found that swapping three servings of juice per week for whole fruits would result in a 7 percent reduction in diabetes risk.
The fruits’ glycemic index (a measure of how rapidly carbohydrates in a food boost blood sugar) did not prove to be a significant factor in determining a fruit’s association with type 2 diabetes risk. However, the high glycemic index of fruit juice — which passes through the digestive system more rapidly than fiber-rich fruit — may explain the positive link between juice consumption and increased diabetes risk.” – Harvard School of Public Health, about a 2013 study in the British Medical Journal
So the WIC program is probably contributing to the problem of type 2 diabetes among low-income women and children.
In my opinion, a better strategy would be to replace the juice with an extra $3-$5 of vouchers for fruits and vegetables. Preferably a separate one so that families can use the second another time during the month instead of all at once.
I’m Not Asking Much- I Just Want A 42 oz Cardboard Canister of Rolled Oats
You can only buy 16-32 oz. bags/boxes/cardboard canisters of oats on WIC. But one of the most common sizes for rolled oats are 42 oz. cardboard canisters. And that 42 oz. canister of rolled oats costs about as much as a box of Cheerios or Honey Bunches of Oats- which are WIC approved cereals. Seriously, just approve the 42 oz. cardboard canister of rolled oats already.
…And, Here It Comes: Allow Full-Fat Dairy Products
Yes, I actually said that.
Folks, the science behind the “low-fat diet for everyone” idea is actually pretty sketchy.
In 2006, the results came in from the large scale Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification trial came in. The WHI Dietary Modification trial tracked 49,000 women over 8 years. It showed that a low-fat diet had “no effect on heart disease, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or weight.”
That’s the right. The cornerstone of dietary advice from the 1990’s, was not exactly evidence-based.
But it’s actually not too surprising since no large scale dietary trials on the low-fat diet for everyone were ever conducted before it became accepted as “fact”. Trials had been conducted on individuals with heart disease. Researchers noticed that cutting down the fat intake of high-risk individuals reduced heart attacks, and the idea took hold that if everyone followed a low-fat diet then everyone would be healthy. (If you are into diet and health, I highly recommend taking a read through the above cited article because it is an eye-opening account of how cold pressed olive oil and raw nuts became “bad food” and Snackwell’s low-fat cakes became “healthy”.)
Unfortunately, the US government has not caught up with some of the more recent dietary research. But hopefully in the future women and children on WIC will have better access to healthy food.