Date of Defense:
June 6, 2018
Nutrition is critically important to children’s health and development. Yet, poor diets, food insecurity, obesity, and other diet-related health outcomes continue to negatively impact low-income families in the United States. Federal, state, and local policies and programs aimed at providing basic needs and services are vital in helping families support the wellbeing and health of their children. Few studies evaluate the impact of these family supportive policies and programs (excluding the USDA nutrition and food assistance programs) on children’s health and wellbeing outcomes, despite growing recognition that health is connected to social conditions. This review was conducted to assess the extent to which family supportive policies and programs have been found to impact weight and diet-related outcomes for children and their families, including dietary quality, food security, healthy weight, and prevalence of breastfeeding. Overall, there is promising evidence that family supportive policies and programs have the potential to impact weight and diet-related outcomes. However, the limited evidence points to the need for more intentional research on the impact of these policies on nutrition outcomes and the impact of multiple policies on income-eligible families. More robust evidence on family supportive policies and programs and nutrition outcomes can better inform the implementation and creation of these policies and ultimately impact children’s health and development.