$2.2 Million Granted to Evaluate New York's WIC Obesity Prevention Efforts

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 20, 2009) – State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today announced a collaborative effort to evaluate recent innovations in reducing childhood obesity through New York State's Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

The study, "First Steps" Evaluation of New York State Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies, is being funded by a four-year, $2.2 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New York State Health Foundation.

The study will be led by Sally Findley, Ph.D., of the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University; Mary Ann Chiasson, Dr. P.H., of Public Health Solutions; and Jackson Sekhobo, Ph.D., of the New York State Department of Health.

"Early childhood obesity is a serious threat to health that tends to persist into subsequent childhood and adult years," Commissioner Daines said. "New York's WIC program, which serves more than 500,000 women and preschool children annually, is uniquely positioned to help prevent obesity and its related health problems by curbing early weight gain among infants and young children."

The federally funded WIC program promotes good nutrition and healthy weight gain for low-income pregnant, post partum, or breastfeeding women, as well as infants and children up to the age of 5. Changes in the national recommendations for WIC since 2005 have also focused on the prevention of overweight and obesity.

In January, New York became the first state in the nation to implement a revised WIC food package that offers mothers and their children a more balanced set of foods that reflect dietary recommendations to consume less fat and sweetened beverages and to eat more fiber and fruits and vegetables. New York's WIC program has also introduced a new program called FiTWIC to teach parents and children how to incorporate simple physical activities into their lives.

"New York State is at the forefront of efforts to prevent childhood obesity," said Dr. Daines. "The "First Steps" evaluation presents an ideal opportunity to evaluate our obesity prevention efforts early in the program to maximize success and to share the New York experience with other states."

More data about New York's WIC program is available at http://www.nyhealth.gov/prevention/nutrition/wic/