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Obesity Rates Down For Children On WIC

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Obesity rates among preschool age children who receive federal food assistance are down according to a new analysis and Indiana’s numbers follow the trend.

Nearly half of all babies born in Indiana receive services through the Women, Infant and Children, or WIC program. 

In a four-year period, Indiana’s obesity rate for 2-4 year olds in the program dropped from 15.1 percent in 2010 to 14.3 in 2014. 

Jamie Bussel is a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She says recent nutrition updates have likely helped. 

"That also has led to stores stocking healthier options, families buying healthier foods and I think this is all strong rationale about why we need to protect and strengthen child nutrition programs," says Bussel. 

WIC also provides breastfeeding support, education about healthy eating and health care referrals for women and children.  

Bussel says the decline is encouraging. 

"The lifelong health risks associated with childhood obesity, I think really underscore for us, the importance of preventing and identifying obesity as early as possible," says Bussel. 

Indiana ranks 26th for rates of obesity among children who participate in the WIC program.