CLEARFIELD - Obesity is a risk no matter how little money you make.
In addition to expanding their income guidelines for this year, Davis County’s WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program is also increasing the amount of their fresh fruit and vegetable vouchers. The group is also working to educate families on portion control another factor that can contribute to obesity.
“I’m finding a lot of them may not know about serving sizes,” said Mindy Box, a registered dietician with Davis County Health. “Even juice has a recommended serving size.”
Despite seeming healthy, fruit juice can inadvertently contribute to obesity because of its high sugar content. Information like this is a key element in WIC’s nutrition education, which also focuses on healthy recipes and making smart snacking choices.
They also direct families to websites such as choosemyplate.gov, which gives families an easy-to-use visual guide to healthy portion sizes, emphasizing vegetables and grains over fruit and protein. The site also includes healthy eating tips and other resources for parents.
“It’s the mom and dad that needs to make sure they’re providing these things for the children,” said Box. “If they’re not aware, we’re there to give them the idea.”
They also help steer families towards smarter food choices. The program now only gives out 1 percent or skim milk, and the fresh fruit and vegetable vouchers have gone up from $6 to $8 for the coming year.
“A lot of our participants are very excited about that,” said Box.
Though some feel that lower income families are obese because processed foods are cheaper than fresh foods, Box said that all depends on knowing what to do with the fresh fruit and vegetables.
“Chips are $4 a bag now, and fruit and vegetables can be good prices if you get them in season,” she said. “We also talk to (WIC participants) about how to use their fresh fruits and vegetables so they don’t go bad.”
In addition to nutrition advice, WIC also shows participants ways to include more physical activity in their daily routines.
“We encourage people to get up and get moving,” said Box. “We have these fun little jump balls for kids to play on. We also tell parents about free family activities around the county, like splash pads.”
Thanks to increased income guidelines, more families will be able to get that kind of education and support from WIC. The annual income cap for a family of two, which can include a mother and unborn child, is now $29,101. Pregnant mothers will also qualify if they are on Medicare.
“There have been years where they haven’t increased, but that’s usually a funding thing,” said Box. “There’s always a need.”