Background: A recent report of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) outlined priority nutrients for infants and children participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
Objective: The objective of this study was to assess usual nutrient intakes from foods and beverages (not supplements) among US children aged <4 y by WIC participation status.
Methods: A national random sample of children aged <4 y (n = 3,235) from the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS) 2016 was categorized by WIC participation status (participants, lower-income nonparticipants, or higher-income nonparticipants) and age (younger infants aged 0-5.9 mo, older infants aged 6-11.9 mo, toddlers aged 12-23.9 mo, or preschoolers aged 24-47.9 mo). All participants contributed one 24-h dietary recall, with a second recall from a representative subsample (n = 799). Usual intakes and compliance with federal dietary recommendations were estimated by using the National Cancer Institute method. Differences between WIC participants and either lower-income nonparticipants or higher-income nonparticipants were tested using t tests.
Results: The diets of infants (aged <12 mo) were nutritionally adequate in general. Older infants participating in WIC had higher compliance with iron and vitamin D guidelines than either group of nonparticipants and greater compliance with calcium, zinc, and potassium guidelines than higher-income nonparticipants. WIC toddlers had a higher risk of inadequate calcium and excessive sodium intakes than higher-income nonparticipants. Eight percent of WIC toddlers exceeded added sugar guidelines compared with either nonparticipant group (∼2%). WIC toddlers and preschoolers had a lower risk of inadequate vitamin D intake than lower-income nonparticipants, but inadequacy was >75% across all subgroups. WIC preschoolers had higher compliance with saturated fat guidelines but lower compliance with sodium and added sugar guidelines than higher-income nonparticipants.
Conclusions: WIC participants had better intakes of iron (ages 6-23.9 mo), zinc and potassium (ages 6-11.9 mo), saturated fat (ages 24-47.9 mo), and vitamin D (all ages). Regardless of WIC participation status, most infants and children met the calcium and zinc guidelines, but large proportions had intakes not meeting the recommendations for iron (ages 6-11.9 mo), vitamin D, potassium, fiber, saturated fat, and sodium.