The topic for my paper is Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). I picked this topic because I’m interested in social problems, such as poverty, and steps that are being taken to improve conditions and the effectiveness of these steps. The WIC was started in 1974 (and was recently revised in 2009) and is dedicated to improving the nutritional status of low-income women, infants, and children below the age of 5. Some of the positive effects WIC has had on participants are: a reduction in infant mortality and low birth- weight rates, an improvement in the growth of infants nutritionally at-risk, an improvement in children’s diets, a reduction in iron deficiency anemia, and participating children have even shown improvements in intellectual development. A lot of studies have been done in the past on whether WIC as effective as it claims to be.
I would like to continue the study of the effectiveness of the program on its participants, hopefully more recently than other studies. In particular, I’m interested in how WIC affects either the weight of children participants or the nutrient-intake of infants with a focus on iron, since the program is said to reduce iron deficiency anemia, in comparison to non-participating children/infants. Accessing data has proven to be difficult. I was told that the Census and SIPP would be great databases to use because they would most likely contain surveys of WIC participants but I can’t seem to find specific WIC participants (something I intend to figure out and could potentially change my thesis as I also wonder how participation affects income mobility). There is a database titled National Food and Nutrition Survey of WIC Participants (NATFAN) but it requires a username/password to access- I would like to look further into possible access to that. I have found a report titled “Diet Quality of American Young Children by WIC Participation Status: Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999-2004” that contains a lot of data taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which looks like the most promising data so far. Here’s the link- http://www.fns.usda.gov/Ora/menu/Published/WIC/FILES/NHANES-WIC.pdf. It contains various charts on nutrient- intake and one particular chart on the distribution of body weight, comparing WIC children and nonparticipating children (but only until 2004). I’ve also found data on the number of participants and the cost of the program each year since it was established- http://www.fns.usda.gov/pd/wisummary.htm So, I need some guidance on navigating through the large databases, but I know the data is there and what I have now is definitely a solid start but I would like to improve it by accessing these databases and obtaining more up-to-date data.