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Public Health Nutr. 2015 Jan;18(1):25-32. doi: 10.1017/S1368980014000524. Epub 2014 Apr 24.

Use of a new availability index to evaluate the effect of policy changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) on the food environment in New Orleans.

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Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences,Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine (SPHTM),1440 Canal Street,Suite 2301,New Orleans,LA 70112,USA.



Changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) occurred in 2009 when supplemental foods offered through the programme were updated to align with current dietary recommendations. The present study reports on a new index developed to monitor the retail environment's adoption of these new food supply requirements in New Orleans.


A 100-point WIC Availability Index (WIC-AI) was derived from new minimum state stocking requirements for WIC vendors. A sample of supermarkets, medium and small food stores was assessed in 2009 before changes were implemented and in 2010 after revisions had gone into effect. WIC-AI scores were utilized to compare differences in meeting requirements by store type, WIC vendor status and year of measurement.


Supermarkets, medium and small WIC and non-WIC food stores in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.


At baseline supermarkets had the highest median WIC-AI score (93·3) followed by medium (69·8) and small food stores (48·0). Small WIC stores had a higher median WIC-AI score at baseline than small non-WIC stores (66·9 v. 38·0). Both medium and small WIC stores significantly increased their median WIC-AI scores between 2009 and 2010 (P<0·01). The increased median WIC-AI score in small food stores was largely attributed to increased availability of cereals and grains, juices and fruit, and infant fruit and vegetables.


The WIC-AI is a simple tool useful in summarizing complex food store environment data and may be adapted for use in other states or a national level to inform food policy decisions and direction.


Food assistance; Food supply; New Orleans; Nutrition policy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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