National WIC Association

In Defense of WIC: The Nutrition Education Provided by WIC Staff is Beneficial & Participant Centered

April 12, 2017

You may encounter the following criticism of WIC: The nutrition education provided by WIC staff is condescending. Here are some suggestions for how to respond if and when you encounter this claim:

Sample Talking Points:

  • WIC's nutrition counseling intentionally directs participants to examine their own behaviors, and highlights participants’ capacities, strengths, and needs, rather than their problems or negative behaviors.
  • Most WIC participants enjoy and value the nutrition education they receive at WIC and describe how it leads to better lifelong nutrition and health behaviors for them and their children.
  • WIC nutrition educators (i.e. dietitians, nutritionists, etc.) are trained in nutrition counseling and therefore are credible sources of nutrition information.
  • One-on-one counseling is the primary delivery method for WIC nutrition education.1
  • WIC nutrition education has been shown to help increase the consumption of healthful foods.2
  • WIC supports families to make healthy changes to their lifestyle through nutrition education that can take various forms, from online modules to group classes to one-on-one counseling.
  • The nutrition education in WIC helps families connect the dots between health, growth, and development.

Peer-Reviewed Literature to Corroborate these Points:

1 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Policy Support. WIC Nutrition Education Study: Phase I Report, by Sheryl Cates, Kristen Capogrossi, Linnea Sallack, Karen Deehy Celia Eicheldinger, Shawn Karns, Samantha Bradley, Katherine Kosa, and Jenna Brophy. Project Officer: Karen Castellanos-Brown. Alexandria, VA: May 2016.

2 Lorrene D. Ritchie, Shannon E. Whaley, Phil Spector, Judy Gomez, Patricia Crawford (2010) Favorable Impact of Nutrition Education on California WIC Families. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior Vol.43 Issue 3. Supplement, Pages S2-S10.

WIC Testimonial Refuting this Claim:

“All of the tips and info WIC provides are awesome…I couldn’t imagine myself without the help and information that this program provides.”--WIC Participant, Kansas