Study highlights hurdles to adolescent wholegrain consumption

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

A new study has uncovered several barriers for adolescents in reaching the recommended wholegrain intake of three portions per day – including lack of availability and taste preference.

There is an ever-growing body of science supporting the benefits of wholegrain consumption for heart health, which has already led the FDA to permit foods containing at least 51 percent whole grains by weight that are also low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol to carry a health claim linking them to a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

This latest study, published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association ​and based on data from Project EAT (Eating Among Teens), sought to find factors that could contribute to low consumption levels of whole grains among adolescents and young adults. According to Project EAT data, young people on average consume only around 0.6 to 0.7 servings of wholegrain foods per day – far fewer than the recommended three servings. The researchers examined data on 792 adolescents with a mean age of 17.2 and 1,686 young adults with a mean age of 20.5.

They found that several factors were to blame, including lack of access to wholegrain foods at home, in restaurants and in schools. Lack of availability in turn was linked to taste preference for non-wholegrain foods, while fast food consumption also corresponded to lower intake of whole grains.

The researchers wrote: “The findings suggest nutrition interventions should address the availability of whole-grain foods in homes and restaurants. In addition, young people should be provided with opportunities to taste a variety of wholegrain foods to enhance taste preferences and self-efficacy to consume whole-grain products.”

The authors cautioned that similar to other research studies which have investigated the factors that influence young people’s food choices, this study could not explain total variance in wholegrain intake. They wrote that further research was needed to determine which of the factors uncovered by their research – or, indeed, other factors – have the largest influence on wholegrain consumption.

Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association

2010, 110:230-237

“Whole-Grain Intake Correlates among Adolescents and Young Adults: Findings from Project EAT”

Authors: Nicole I. Larson, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Mary Story, Teri Burgess-Champoux

Related topics: R&D, Cereals and bakery preparations

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