Addressing Child Obesity in LA County: Collaborations with WIC

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Principal Investigator: May Wang

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and children up to age five. In Los Angeles County (LAC), about 60% of babies born each year are enrolled in WIC. In any one month, about 600,000 families in LAC are served by WIC. LAC-based PHFE WIC, the largest local agency WIC program in the country, has established the Data Mining Project, which maintains administrative data that can be used for monitoring trends in child obesity and evaluating obesity interventions. In addition, through a research partnership between PHFE WIC and UCLA (funded by the American Heart Association), census tract-level food store environment and socio-demographic data have been linked to child-level WIC data to create a database that allows examination of neighborhood environmental influences on child obesity. Further linking of this database to air pollution data will allow examination of potential endocrine disrupting effects on energy metabolism. We are developing a proposal to evaluate the usefulness of participation in community-supported agriculture by WIC families for decreasing child obesity rates, while exploring the effects of air pollution exposure.