Welcome to the second issue of Research to Action, the UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute news brief. This issue focuses on WIC.
Research to Action - The Nutrition Policy Institute news brief

June 2017 | Vol. 1, No. 2



Welcome to the second issue of Research to Action, the Nutrition Policy Institute news brief. This issue highlights research on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

Future editions of Research to Action will be sent several times per year. Please share Research to Action with colleagues who would be interested in receiving it, and please subscribe if you haven't already done so.

Protect WIC from Budget Cuts and Block Granting

WIC logo

What is the issue?

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) was established in 1974 to safeguard the nutrition and health of vulnerable low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants and young children up to age 5 years. The program emerged to safeguard nutrition and health status at particularly vulnerable moments—pregnancy and infancy—in the life cycle. Studies pointed out the special health risks that low-income women and infants faced at those times, including premature and low-weight births, anemia and other conditions.  

WIC has long been acknowledged as a public health success. The WIC program has been shown to reduce premature births, incidence of low birth weight and infant mortality, and to improve access to prenatal care. It has been estimated that for every $1.00 invested in WIC, $1.77 to $3.33 is saved in health care costs during the first two months of an infant’s life.

Given these accomplishments, WIC has experienced impressive growth: currently over half of infants and one-quarter of young children in the U.S. participate in WIC. Unique compared to all other federal nutrition assistance programs, WIC benefits include more than just food. Participants also receive education, resources and referrals on healthy eating, physical activity, breastfeeding, immunization and more.

Despite a long history of bipartisan support, WIC faces the threat of potential budget cuts, barriers to enrollment and block-granting. The basic structure of block grants makes them vulnerable to funding reductions over time as it is easy for states to divert funding to other purposes. In recent decades, for example, the major housing, health and social service programs that have been block-granted have lost nearly half of their funding.

Why does this matter?

Forty years of research has demonstrated that WIC works by improving birth outcomes, breastfeeding, nutrition and health of participants, as well as improving the availability of healthy foods in retail environments. NPI—along with many research partners—has been instrumental in contributing to the body of research documenting WIC’s success. We have demonstrated:

NPI researchers are also working with colleagues on the most comprehensive study of WIC to date, which will document child feeding practices and impacts in a national sample of over 3,500 WIC children followed from birth to age 5 years and are helping to design a national study of the impact of WIC nutrition education.

What actions can I take?

No one wants pregnant women and young children to go hungry. Let your Congressional Representatives and Senators know how WIC helps families in your county. Your voice carries weight and can make a difference for the 8 million Americans who benefit from WIC every month. For contact information for your representatives visit the U.S. House of Representatives or U.S. Senate web pages. Explain that WIC is a good investment and saves taxpayer dollars, in addition to improving the health of millions of  women and young children.

Other activities include:

  • Visit a WIC office in your community. This way you can learn more about what WIC does and show your support for WIC staff members.
  • Spread the word. Few people realize the many good things WIC does for women and children, and how many people participate in the program. Build support in your county for this effective food program.
  • Take advantage of any media opportunities and meeting presentations to promote WIC. Current and former WIC participants make particularly effective spokespeople. 


  • Primary care interventions to reduce childhood obesity and sugar-sweetened beverage consumption: Food for thought for oral health professionals: Abstract  Full Text
  • Review of the Evidence: Health Promotion Strategies for Retail Food Shopping Venues: Report
  • Impact of California Children’s Power Play! Campaign on Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Physical Activity among Fourth- and Fifth-Grade Students: Abstract
  • Needs Assessment of the Rural and Remote Member Food Banks of the California Association of Food Banks: Summary  Full Text
  • Is urban–rural location associated with weight status in school children? An examination of 42 small and rural Californian counties: Abstract  Full Text


The Nutrition Policy Institute is hiring an epidemiologist. Work with us and make a difference! For details about the position and to apply online, visit to apply is July 20, 2017.


June 27, 2017
Food IT: Fork to Farm
Computer History Museum
Mountain View, CA

June 28–29, 2017
Forbes AgTech Summit
Salinas, CA



Watch UC ANR VP Glenda Humiston testify before the House Agriculture Committee on the importance of federal funding for agriculture research in the next Farm Bill.


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The Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) conducts research on the impact of nutrition and physical activity on public health. NPI translates research findings into recommendations to provide a basis for effective decision-making, particularly related to the federal nutrition assistance programs.

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