Final results of the Maryland WIC food for life program

Stephen Havas*, Jean Anliker, Deborah Greenberg, Gladys Block, Torin Block, Cheryl Blik, Patricia Langenberg, Carlo DiClemente

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Background. The few randomized community trials in middle-income populations that tried to modify multiple dietary risk factors for cancer only demonstrated small changes. This trial sought to decrease the percent of calories derived from fat and to increase fruit, vegetable, and fiber intake among low-income women served by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in Maryland. Methods. We conducted six-month intervention programs for 1055 women at ten WIC sites; 1011 women served as controls. Intervention participants were invited to five interactive nutrition sessions and were sent written materials. Controls received usual care. Women were surveyed at baseline, two months post intervention, and one year later. All analyses conducted used an intention-to-treat paradigm. Results. Mean differences (intervention-control) in change from baseline were for percent calories from fat -1.62 ± 0.33% (P < 0.0001), for consumption of fruits and vegetables 0.40 ± 0.11 servings (P = 0.0003), and for fiber intake 1.01 ± 0.31 grams (P = 0.001). These differences in change were related in a dose-response relationship to the number of sessions women attended and remained significant one year post-intervention for the first two outcomes. Conclusions. Multiple dietary improvements can be achieved in a low-income population with an effective, multi-faceted intervention program. The changes in this trial exceeded those in previous community trials conducted in higher SES populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)406-416
Number of pages11
JournalPreventive medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2003


  • Cancer
  • Fat
  • Fiber
  • Fruits
  • Nutrition
  • Randomized community trial
  • Vegetables
  • WIC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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