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Important Facts for Overweight WIC Infants and Children


Definitions used in this Indicator Report follow the current USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program definitions, which are as follows: '''Overweight''' - children 2-5 years of age and greater than or equal to the 85th and less than the 95th percentile Body Mass Index (BMI)-for-age or weight-for-stature as plotted on the 2000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2-20 years gender-specific growth charts. '''At Risk of Overweight''' - children greater than or equal to 12 months of age and having a biological mother with a BMI greater than or equal to 30 at the time of the child's certification on the WIC program __OR__ children aged 1 to 5 years having a biological father with a BMI greater than or equal to 30 at the time of certification. '''Obese''' - children 2-5 years of age and greater than or equal to the 95th percentile BMI or weight-for-stature as plotted on the 2000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2-20 years gender-specific growth charts. '''High Weight-for-Length''' (added in 2013) - children 12-24 months of age having a weight-for-length greater than or equal to the 97.7th percentile as plotted on the CDC Birth to 24 Months gender-specific growth charts.


__2000-2005 & 2010__: The number of children receiving WIC services who were '''overweight''' or '''obese''' (see Definition).[[br]] [[br]] __2011-2012__: The number of children receiving WIC services who were '''at risk of overweight''' (see Definition) __AND__ the number of children who were '''overweight''' or '''obese''' (see Definition).[[br]] [[br]] __2013-current__: The number of children receiving WIC services who were '''high weight-for-length''' or '''at risk of overweight''' (see Definition) __AND__ the number of children who were '''overweight''' or '''obese''' (see Definition).


__2000-2005 and 2010__: The number of children aged 2 to 5 years receiving WIC services.[[br]] [[br]] __2011-current__: The number of children aged 12 months to 5 years receiving WIC services.

Data Interpretation Issues

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) PedNSS (Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System) data were used through 2010. PedNSS used raw data submitted by the state Special Supplemental Nutrition Programs for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The PedNSS provides nutrition surveillance reports for the nation defined as "all participating contributors" as well as for each contributor. A contributor may be a state, U.S. territory, or tribal government. Each contributor can receive more specific reports by the clinic, county, local agency, region, or metropolitan area (taken from the CDC website). The data represent actual measurements taken in the local WIC clinics or referral data from the health care provider's office.[[br]] [[br]] Beginning in 2011, national data are from USDA's WIC Program and Participant Characteristic Survey which is released every two years. Utah data for obesity only uses this same data source. However, Utah data for the combined overweight, at risk for overweight, high weight for length, or obese beginning in 2011 are from the WIC computer system VISION, created by Ciber.[[br]] [[br]] The 2015 Utah data are significantly lower than in previous years. Considerations for this marked decline may be decreasing caseload in WIC participation and/or evidence of the quality of WIC foods for growing children such as fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk, and whole grains.[[br]] [[br]] The 2018 Utah data increased from previous years. This increase may be related to a decreasing WIC caseload, affecting the proportion of children assigned an overweight or obese nutrition risk factor.[[br]] [[br]] From 2020-2022, the COVID-19 pandemic caused FNS to provide WIC clinics waivers for in-person visits, making accurate data collection for anthropometrics difficult. This may have contributed to the fluctuation in overweight and obesity prevalence for these years.

Why Is This Important?

Childhood overweight is a serious health problem in the United States, and the prevalence of overweight among preschool children has doubled since the 1970s. There have been significant increases in the prevalence of overweight in children younger than 5 years of age across all ethnic groups. Onset of overweight in childhood accounts for 25% of adult obesity; but overweight that begins before age 8 and persists into adulthood is associated with an even greater degree of adult obesity. Childhood overweight is associated with a variety of adverse consequences, including an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, asthma, GERD, sleep apnea, bullying, social stigmatization, mental health conditions, and low self-esteem.

Healthy People Objective NWS-10.1:

Reduce the proportion of children aged 2 to 5 years who are considered obese
U.S. Target: 9.4 percent

How Are We Doing?

Nationwide, overweight and obesity in infants and preschool-aged children have been steadily increasing with the highest rates among 3- and 4-year-olds, Hispanic/Latino, Pacific Islander, and Alaskan Native/American Indian children.

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

Utah has consistently had rates for overweight children below the national average and that trend continues for the Utah WIC Program. Despite the higher prevalences of overweight and obesity in 2018 and 2020, Utah WIC's overweigh and obesity prevalence in children is generally less than the national average for WIC participants. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) WIC Participant and Program Characteristic Report is released every 2 years and reflects the data from WIC participants nationwide. We hope to maintain this progress in the future.

What Is Being Done?

The Utah WIC Program focuses on preventing the development of childhood overweight and obesity during pregnancy, infancy, and throughout childhood. [[br]] [[br]] Women's choices during pregnancy can influence the risk of childhood overweight and obesity. Utah WIC emphasizes the importance of gaining appropriate amounts of weight during pregnancy, consuming a healthy diet and being physically active during pregnancy, and encouraging women to breastfeed their children for the recommended 12 months or more to prevent childhood obesity.[[br]] [[br]] To prevent the development of childhood overweight and obesity in infancy, Utah WIC continues to promote breastfeeding, and teaches parents about when to introduce complementary foods and which compelmentary foods are appropraite for infants.[[br]] [[br]] WIC promotes overweight and obesity prevention in childhood by measuring and plotting children's measurements on growth charts and discussing the growth pattern with the parent/caregiver, through teaching about healthy diets for children, through teaching about physical activity, and through providing nutrient-dense foods in the WIC Food Packages. [[br]] [[br]] If a child has an overweight or obese BMI, treatment primarily focuses on weight maintenance rather than weight loss. Weight maintanence is acheived through modest changes in diet and physical activity. It is important to avoid short term diets and/or physical activity programs that promote rapid weight loss. Also, it's critical for caregivers to model healthy eating and physically active lifestyles while emphasizing the importance of the entire family making positive changes. The Utah WIC Program staff assist WIC participants in educating families about healthy dietary intakes and physical activity levels, helping families to set health behavior goals, and monitoring changes as well as progress. Some general health behavior goals that can treat childhood overweight and obesity are listed below: [[br]] *healthy eating habits. *eating three meals per day and choosing healthy, nutrient-dense snacks. *modestly reducing fat in the family's diet (do not restrict fat in the diets of children less than 2 years of age). *drinking low-fat and nonfat milk after the age of 2 years. *limiting the consumption of high sugar foods like soda and fruit drinks. *being aware of portion sizes, especially of high fat and high sugar foods. *limiting the frequency of high calorie fast food meals. *eating a variety of foods by introducing new foods often *drinking more water. *engaging in physical activities that the entire family enjoys. *reducing screen time to less than 1 hour per day for children older than 18 months. Children younger than 18 months should not have any screen time. [[br]] [[br]]

Health Program Information

Utah WIC Program: 1-877-WIC-KIDS [[br]] []
The information provided above is from the Utah Department of Health and Human Services IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Sun, 25 February 2024 11:07:20 from Utah Department of Health and Human Services, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Thu, 27 Oct 2022 11:13:31 MDT