The objectives of the study

The Special Supplemental Nutritional Program in England for Women, Infants and Children or simply WIC introduced some revisions targeting the quantities and composition of food packages offered by WIC. As a result of these revisions, the allowances that were given for juice purchases in the program were reduced by nearly half of the initial amount. This study seeks to describe the resulting changes on juice purchases as well as other beverages bought by people participating in the WIC program after revisions were enforced.

The methods used in the study

To assess the purchases made on beverages and juice, the researchers analyzed data obtained from the scanner of a supermarket in New England. The data targeted 2137 households that were participating in the WIC program during the two-year period. The beverage amounts purchased by the participants were compared with purchases made before the revisions; between January and September 2009 and the purchases made after the revisions were implemented; between January and September 2010. The researchers used generalized estimation equation models.

Results and findings of the study

Before the revisions were enacted and implemented, the amount of juice bought using WIC program accounted for a total of 2/3 for all the juice bought by WIC households. However, after the revisions were implemented, there was a 43.5 percent reduction of purchases made on WIC juice relative to the changes in allowances. The reduction was compensated partly by a small increase of 13.6 percent on juice purchases done using non WIC and personal funds. There was a total decrease of 23.5% of the juice purchases made after the new adjustments. Fruit drink purchases made by the WIC houses recorded an increase of 20.89 percent and non- carbonated drinks increased by 21.3 percent. However, the households purchased less soft drinks, which decreased by 12.1 percent.

Research conclusions

After the WIC revisions were implemented, the initially 100 percent total juice purchases among the WIC houses recorded a notable decline by nearly a quarter. This was directly linked to the little compensation that was made by beverage and juice purchases done from personal funds. This concludes that families that rely on WIC program have their food purchases largely hedged on the amount of allowances they receive. This was well reinforced with the small increase of juice purchases that the households were willing to make with their personal money/ funds. It was also concluded that the impact of public health that could have resulted from the change of purchase patterns could be significant.

WIC is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program provided for Woman, Infants and Children. Under this program, households with low income earnings are provided with allotments to buy certain types of foods that are important in meeting nutritional requirements.