The Nutrition Services Branch administers the federally funded Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children WIC Program that provides nutritious foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding information when appropriate, and a referral for intensive care to low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants and children at nutritional risk.
Studies have shown that pregnant women who participate in WIC have fewer premature births, fewer low birth weight babies and seek prenatal care earlier. Breastfeeding promotion is a component of the WIC Program. For mothers, breastfeeding reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer. For the infant, breastfeeding protects against infectious diseases and is related to lower rates of obesity, childhood cancer and asthma.
Nutritionists in local health departments provide medical nutrition therapy (individual intensive nutrition counseling) and community nutrition programs such as Choose 1 percent or Less and Weight the Reality Series.
Food Delivery/Data Section
The Food Delivery/Data Section provides WIC food instruments and data reports for USDA reporting purposes. The section processes and distributes more than 4 million food instruments. The section provides assistance to local WIC sites via telephone and electronic communication as well as by on-site training.
The Medical Nutrition Therapy Program
Public health departments provide medical nutrition therapy (MNT) to improve quality of life and maximize limited health care system resources. Nutrition is a major element of life and plays a vital role in growth and development. Medical nutrition therapy:
- Is provided only by a registered dietitian/licensed dietitian or certified nutritionist;
- Includes current assessment of nutritional status;
- Includes an individualized diet and activity plan based on an individual's preferences, medications, current health and family health history, appropriate types of physical activity and any eating problems;
- Supports the healing process or assists in preventing further complications or future illnesses.
Medical nutrition therapy can help promote optimal health.
Registered dietitians/licensed dietitians or certified nutritionists who design nutrition plans have more than five years of training in nutrition and nutritional science. They are registered by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and licensed in the state of Kentucky to provide medical nutrition therapy services.
See the Medical Nutrition Referral Listing for contacts in your county.
Medical nutrition therapy has been shown to reduce health care costs.
For instance, diabetes is a costly and debilitating disease. With MNT as a treatment component, people with Type 2 diabetes have been able to discontinue or decrease oral medication with a diet and exercise plan. In a 10-year study of Type 1 diabetes through the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial, optimal blood glucose control reduced the risk of complications by 60 percent.
A Massachusetts study, which included MNT for hypercholesterolemia, demonstrated cost savings of $1,300 per patient per year.
A study in Maine outlined a therapy using MNT for hypertension that decreased the dosage of medication and provided estimated five-year cost savings of more than $900.
The MNT services are provided with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Nutrition Care Manuals. The Academy's Nutrition Care Manuals are a comprehensive scientific based online resource that coves all aspects of nutrition management. The Academy's Nutrition Care Manuals and Nutrition Care Process is a standardized model intended for Registered Dieticians and Certified Nutritionists in providing high quality nutrition care.
Services in Kentucky
In Kentucky, public health departments can provide medical nutrition therapy for people with or without insurance. The registered dietitian/licensed dietitian or certified nutritionist offers this service in 104 of 120 counties (see link to map below). Besides individual counseling, RD/LDs or CNs also provide group nutrition education that may include speaking to a high school class about eating disorders, conducting grocery store tours to view healthy food choices, food demonstrations and cooking classes or working weight loss support groups. Call your local health department to tap into the exciting world of nutrition.