- Author: Brianna Aguayo Villalon
- Editor: lauren au
A recent study found that higher infant diet quality scores observed in Hispanic Spanish-speaking participants account for certain racial and ethnic variations in later diet quality, suggesting that enhancing infant nutrition could mitigate early childhood diet disparities. Researchers focused on data from participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, to analyze nutritional practices based on racial and ethnic differences among young children. The researchers found that infant diet quality among Hispanic Spanish-speaking families accounted for 25% of later diet disparities based on racial and ethnic differences. The study was published in The Journal of Nutrition, including authors Lauren Au, Charles Arnold, and Sarina Lin from the University of California, Davis, Department of Nutrition, Lorrene Ritchie from the Nutrition Policy Institute, and Edward Frongillio from the University of South Carolina, Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior.
Lauren Au, Nutrition Policy Institute affiliated researcher and assistant professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis, received the 2023 Huddelson award from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. The award recognizes dietitians who were the lead author of a peer-reviewed article that made important contributions to the field of dietetics. The award is named for Mary Pascoe Huddleson, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics editor from 1927 to 1946. The honored article, “A Qualitative Examination of California WIC Participants and Local Agency Directors Experiences during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic,” was co-authored by NPI researchers Christina Hecht, Marisa Tsai, Nicole Vital and Lorrene Ritchie. It examines Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children participants' and agency directors' perceptions, practices, and other challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Au's research is used to support nutrition policies and reduce disparities among low-income populations.
Recent research shows that increased Cash Value Benefit amounts for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children—commonly known as WIC—to purchase fruits and vegetables was associated with greater amounts and variety of fruits and vegetables purchased. The US Department of Agriculture's response to the COVID-19 pandemic increased the Cash Value Benefit for children from $9 per month to $25 per month, effective until September 30, 2023. The Cash Value Benefit will revert to a lower amount without Congressional action. Analyzing purchasing data for 1,578 families with 1,770 children participating in WIC in Los Angeles County, the study found significant increases in amounts purchased for 53 of 54 evaluated fruits and vegetables, and significant increases in diversity of purchased fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and total fresh produce following the increase to the Cash Value Benefit. Findings are important as expanding fruit and vegetable variety in children's diets improves diet quality and acceptance of fruits and vegetables, which is foundational for lifelong healthy eating habits. Results support the continuation of the increased Cash Value Benefit. The study was published in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition by Christopher Anderson, Catherine Yepez, and Shannon E. Whaley from Heluna Health's Public Health Foundation Enterprises-WIC Program, Lauren Au from the University of California, Davis, and Marisa Tsai and Lorrene Ritchie from the Nutrition Policy Institute at the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. The study was funded by Healthy Eating Research, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation.
Nutrition Policy Institute researchers will present their collaborative research findings at the American Society for Nutrition, Nutrition 2023 annual conference in-person in Boston, Mass. Alana Chaney, a University of California, Davis graduate student, will present a poster on July 22, 10:05 to 10:09 a.m ET titled “Newly Developed Infant Diet Quality Index (IDQI) Predicts Nutrient Outcomes in Young Children ages 2-5" as part of a Poster Theater Flash Session - Innovations in Infant, Pediatric, and Pregnancy Nutrition Research: New Tools and Methodologies. The poster is co-authored by NPI-affiliated researcher Lauren Au and Charles Arnold from UC Davis, Lorrene Ritchie from NPI, and Edward Frongillo from the University of South Carolina. Lauren Au will present a poster on July 23, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. ET titled “Differences in infant diet quality by race and ethnicity predict differences in later diet quality.” The poster is co-authored by Charles Arnold and Sarina Lin from UC Davis, Lorrene Ritchie and Edward Frongillo. NPI's Sridharshi Hewawitharana will present a poster on July 24, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. titled, "Student and School Characteristics Modify the Impact of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education on Student Dietary Outcomes.” The poster is co-authored by NPI's Kaela Plank, Amanda Linares and Gail Woodward-Lopez./span>
A recent study conducted in California examined the impact of increased cash value benefits to purchase fruits and vegetables in the federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study, which focused on 1,700 families with low-income who had children aged 1-4, found that the increased benefits improved household food security, increased child fruit and vegetable consumption among children with inadequate intakes, and enhanced satisfaction with the cash value benefit amount. Before the pandemic, WIC families received only $9 to purchase fruits and vegetables for children, which provided less than one-fifth of the recommended amounts for this age group. The cash value benefit for children was temporarily increased to $35 per month from May to September 2021 and to $24 per month starting in October 2021. The study findings support continuation of the increased cash value benefit to support the nutrition and health of vulnerable young children. The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Authors include Shannon E. Whaley, Christopher Anderson and Catherine Yepez from the Public Health Foundation Enterprises-WIC, Marisa Tsai and Lorrene Ritchie from the Nutrition Policy Institute at the University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Lauren Au from UC Davis Department of Nutrition. The research was funded by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.