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Federal Food Package Revisions

Effects on Purchases of Whole-Grain Products
  • Tatiana Andreyeva
    Correspondence
    Address correspondence to: Tatiana Andreyeva, PhD, Director of Economic Initiatives, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Yale University, 309 Edwards Street, PO Box 208369, New Haven CT 06520-8369
    Affiliations
    Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity (Andreyeva, Luedicke), Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
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  • Joerg Luedicke
    Affiliations
    Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity (Andreyeva, Luedicke), Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

    Department of Psychology (Luedicke), University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida
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      Background

      In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) implemented revisions to the composition and quantities of WIC-provided foods. New whole-grain products such as whole-wheat bread and allowable substitutes were added to encourage increased intake of whole grains and fiber among WIC participants.

      Purpose

      This paper assesses how the WIC revisions affected purchases of bread and rice among WIC-participating households in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

      Methods

      Scanner data from a regional supermarket chain were used to examine bread and rice purchases of 2137 WIC households. Purchased volume of bread and rice was compared before and after implementation of the WIC revisions (2009–2010) using generalized estimating equation models. Data were analyzed in 2013.

      Results

      Before the WIC revisions, when no bread or rice was provided through WIC, white bread dominated bread purchases among WIC households (78% of volume), and almost all rice purchased was white (94%). As a result of the WIC revisions, the share of 100% whole-grain bread in total bread purchases tripled (from 8% to 24%), replacing purchases of white bread; the share of brown rice rose to 30% of rice purchases. WIC households used WIC benefits to change some of their bread purchases, rather than to buy more bread overall, whereas total rice purchases increased.

      Conclusions

      The 2009 WIC revisions significantly increased purchases of whole-grain bread and rice among WIC-participating families. The likely increase in whole-grain and fiber intake among low-income communities could have important public health implications.
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