About the WIC data

Information on this page:

What do these data tell us?

  • The percent of children served by the Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Program who were overweight and obese
  • Overweight and obesity trends over time for WIC children
  • The percent of WIC children who were overweight and obese by age, gender, and race/ethnicity
  • Health inequities in obesity and overweight prevalence by race/ethnicity and geographic location

How can we use these data?

  • To inform the public about overweight and obesity among young children
  • To explore trends in childhood overweight and obesity
  • For program planning and evaluation by state and local partners
  • Develop and adjust policies

What can these data not tell us?

  • Measures of overweight and obesity among children 2 up to age five years not served by the WIC program
  • Measures of overweight and obesity among children less than 2 years of age or 5 years of age or older
  • Causes of overweight and obesity

What is a BMI percentile?

Body mass index (BMI) is commonly used to classify body weight. It is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms (kg) by square height in meters (m). BMI is used as a public health screening tool; it does not measure body fat directly.

For children ages two up to age five years, BMI is plotted on a growth chart using the Centers for Disease Control 2000 reference population. A percentile reflects how the child's BMI compares to other children of the same age and gender. For example, a 3-year-old boy in the 95th percentile for BMI has a BMI higher than 95% of 3-year-old boys.

BMI percentile is used to determine weight status category based on the CDC 2000 reference population:


Body Mass Index Percentile

Percentile range Weight status category
less than 5th percentile Underweight
5th percentile to less than 85th percentile Healthy weight
85th percentile to less than 95th percentile Overweight
equal to or greater than 95th percentile Obese

What is the source of the data?

Data come from the Minnesota Women, Infant & Children (WIC) Information System. The WIC Program serves eligible women, infants, and children up to age five. Visit Minnesota WIC for additional information.

In 2013, WIC served approximately 66,900 Minnesota children, up to age five, every month. The program served over 41% of children zero up to age 5 in the state of Minnesota.

Height and weight data used to determine BMI percentile are collected at the WIC clinic where a family receives their services.

What are the limitations of the data?

Childhood obesity data are not representative of all Minnesota children. Data are representative of eligible, low-income children in Minnesota who are enrolled in the WIC Program.

  • WIC is a state-administered program that serves children whose families meet certain eligibility requirements.
  • Not all children who are eligible for WIC participate in the program. However, Minnesota WIC does have one of the best coverage rates in the country. In 2012 Minnesota WIC served 73% of eligible individuals.

How was statistical significance tested?

A difference, increase, or decrease is indicated as "statistically significant" when the 95% confidence intervals for percentages do not overlap. In statistics, this means that two or more percentages are significantly different at the α=0.05 significance level.

Where can I find comparison data?

MN WIC is the only population-based data on measured weight status in lower income children ages 2 up to age 5 in Minnesota.

Other sources of childhood obesity data include:

Where can I find more technical information about the data?

For additional information, visit WIC Reports & Data or contact the Minnesota State WIC Office at 1-800-657-3942 or 1-651-201-4404.