Effects of reduced juice allowances in food packages for the women, infants, and children program.Pediatrics. 2013 May; 131(5):919-27.Ped
In 2009, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) implemented revisions to the composition and quantities of WIC food packages. Juice allowances were reduced by approximately half. This report describes changes in purchases of 100% juice and other beverages among WIC participants after the WIC revisions.
Scanner data from a New England supermarket chain were used to assess juice and other beverage purchases among 2137 WIC-participating households during a 2-year period (N = 36 051 household-months). Purchased beverage amounts were compared before (January-September 2009) and after (January-September 2010) implementation of the revised WIC packages. Generalized estimating equation models were used.
Before the revisions, WIC juice accounted for two-thirds of purchased juice volume among WIC households. After implementation of the revisions, WIC juice purchases were reduced on par with allowance changes (43.5% of juice volume, 95% confidence interval [CI] 41.9%-45.1%). This reduction was only partly compensated for by an increase of 13.6% (8.4%-19.0%) in juice purchases using personal and other non-WIC funds. In total, juice purchases declined by 23.5% (21.4%-25.4%) from an adjusted monthly total of 238 oz to 182 oz per household. WIC households increased purchases of fruit drinks by 20.9% (14.9%-27.3%) and other noncarbonated beverages by 21.3% (12.1%-31.2%) but purchased 12.1% (8.1%-15.0%) less soft drinks.
After the WIC revisions, total purchases of 100% juice among WIC households declined by about a quarter, with little compensation occurring from non-WIC funds for juice and other beverages. The public health impact of the shift in beverage purchase patterns could be significant.