At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Provides a census of all individuals enrolled in WIC in April 2018
  • Includes information on breastfeeding initiation and duration
  • Measured length/height and weight of WIC participants
  • Includes state and national-level data



The WIC Participant and Program Characteristics Study summarizes the demographic characteristics of participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nationwide. It includes information on participant income and nutrition risk characteristics, estimates breastfeeding initiation rates for WIC infants, and describes WIC members of migrant farm-worker families.

Target Population

WIC participants


Last conducted in 2018 and released in 2020.


United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service


Sample Design

Biennial cross-sectional census of all WIC participants enrolled at the time of the reference month of April 2018

Source of Information

WIC State Agencies Management Information Systems

Annual Reference Date

April 2018

Sample Size

Study is a census of approximately 7.8 million individuals. The public-use dataset is a subset of 60,003 individuals, weighted to be nationally representative.

Key Variables


NameMethods of Assessment
Participant Category
Migrant Status
Age at WIC certification
Trimester at WIC certification
Risk priority level
Annual income level
Size of family/household


NameMethods of Assessment
Breastfeeding Initiation and Duration
Participation in other benefit programs (TANF, SNAP)


NameMethods of Assessment
Measured length/height and weight of participants


NameMethods of Assessment
National and State Level Data

Geographic Identifiers

NameMethods of Assessment
State; urban/rural on census dataset

Nutritional Status

NameMethods of Assessment
Participant nutrition risk category
Participant anemia status

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

Data can be requested by contacting

2016 public-use data is available for download on Ag Data Commons:

2018 public-use data will be uploaded to Ag Data Commons.


Free of charge


Geocode Variable(s)


Existing Linkages


Selected Publications


WIC Participant and Program Characteristics 2016:

WIC Participant and Program Characteristics 2018:


Freedman, D. S., Sharma, A. J., Hamner, H. C., Pan, L., Panzera, A., Smith, R. B., & Blanck, H. M. (2017). Trends in weight-for-length among infants in WIC from 2000 to 2014. Pediatrics, 139(1), e20162034.

Pan L, Blanck HM, Park S, et al. State-Specific Prevalence of Obesity Among Children Aged 2-4 Years Enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children - United States, 2010-2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019;68(46):1057-1061. Published 2019 Nov 22. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6846a3


National WIC Association WIC Participant and Program Characteristics FAQs: