Low income mothers and children are eating healthier. That's according to a study of the New York State's Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC. As our Katie Gibas reports, since healthier food packages were introduced in 2009, obesity rates of children in the program have dropped.
NEW YORK -- About one out of every six children is obese. That often carries over to adulthood, which can increase the likelihood of developing heart disease and type two diabetes.
"The New York State Department of Health was the first Department of Health to recognize the obesity epidemic beginning in the mid-1990s, and was then the first department to start implementing efforts to address childhood obesity," said Jackson Sekhobo, Ph.D, of the NYS Department of Health Nutrition Division.
That's part of the reason for changes in the WIC program that provides supplemental nutrition for expectant and new moms and their young children. Women meet with a nutritionist and get a list of approved foods for the month. In 2009, WIC added several initiatives to encourage better food choices and healthier behaviors.
"Promoting consumption of low-fat milk, child-appropriate physical activity, breast-feeding, reduction of screen time as well as consumption of fruits and vegetables," said Sekhobo.
A four year, $2.2 million study was conducted to find out how the efforts were working.
Child obesity rates for kids in the program dropped from 14.7 percent in 2009 to 14.1 percent in 2011.
"That's a very significant change because going from 14.7 to 14.1 represent a lot of children who are no longer obese," said Sekhobo.
But there's still a long way to go. The goal is to reduce child obesity rates to under ten percent.
The study was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New York State Health Foundation.
Visit www.health.ny.gov for more information.