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Health Indicator Report of Overweight WIC Infants and Children

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 cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, asthma, social stigmatization, and low self-esteem.
Please note a data gap existed from 2006 to 2010 due to a new computer system and the inability to receive and transfer data.

Percentage of WIC Children Aged 1-5 Years Who Are Overweight, at Risk for Overweight, High Weight for Length*, or Obese, Utah vs. U.S., 2000-2017


*High weight for length was not included until 2013. The data gap from the year 2006 to the year 2010 was associated with a failed WIC computer system. Data up to 2010 include children 2-5 years only. Beginning in 2011, WIC's overweight data included 1-year-old children who were at risk of overweight, and starting in 2013, high weight-for-length as specified in the health indicator definition. The 2011 data were the last data available from PedNSS. The reported U.S. data for 2012 and 2014 are from the WIC Participant and Program Characteristics report which is released every two years.

Data Sources

  • CDC Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System (PedNSS)
  • VISION computer system, Utah Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program, Division of Family Health and Preparedness, Utah Department of Health
  • WIC PC - WIC Participant and Program Characteristics, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service

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 clinic, county, local agency, region, or metropolitan area (taken from the CDC web site). 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 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.


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.

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. 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. Utah's 2012 obesity prevalence for children 2 to 5 years of age is reported at 8.7% which is below the Healthy People 2020 target of 9.4%. We hope to maintain this progress in the future.

What Is Being Done?

The first step in weight control for most overweight children is not weight loss but rather maintenance of weight or a slowing of the rate of weight gain. Weight goals can be achieved through modest changes in diet and 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 establishing diet behavior goals, starting slowly and monitoring changes as well as progress. Some general diet behavior goals are listed below: [[br]] *healthy eating habits *eating three meals per day and choosing healthy, low calorie 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 juice (emphasize moderation) *being aware of portion sizes, especially of high fat and high sugar foods *limit 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 the time in front of the TV and computer to no more than 1-2 hours per day [[br]] [[br]] Epigenetics and improving maternal health is also being emphasized as a means to help the childhood obesity epidemic. A recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) publication outlines the impact of maternal weight gain during pregnancy, gestational diabetes, maternal pre-pregnancy weight, child spacing, exercise during pregnancy, and breastfeeding duration on fetal development. WIC currently works to educate all mothers of the importance of appropriate weight gain, returning to a healthy postpartum weight, and breastfeeding for the recommended 12 months or more as a means to improve the risk of childhood obesity among WIC participants.

Health Program Information

Utah WIC Program: 1-877-WIC-KIDS [[br]] []
Page Content Updated On 02/02/2018, Published on 02/07/2018
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Thu, 02 July 2020 1:17:15 from Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Thu, 20 Jun 2019 13:03:27 MDT