General Mills-Funded Study Finds Most Americans Don't Get Enough Whole Grains, Dietary Fiber
February 6, 2014

General Mills-Funded Study Finds Most Americans Don’t Get Enough Whole Grains, Dietary Fiber

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

A new study published in the journal Nutrition Research has found that Americans don’t consume enough whole grains.

Funded by the cereal-maker General Mills, the study team discovered that people who ate the recommended three or more daily servings of whole grains also tended to eat the most fiber. Major sources of whole grains for respondents included breakfast cereals, breads and rolls, oatmeal and popcorn.

"Most people do not consume whole grains in amounts that can be most beneficial, also many people, even health professionals, are confused about the relationship between whole grain and fiber," study author Marla Reicks told Reuters.

Using a large countrywide nutrition and health survey, the study team examined whole grain and dietary fiber consumption among Americans ages two and older. They included data from over 9,000 people surveyed between 2009 and 2010.

The study team found 39 percent of children and teens and 42 percent of adults did not eat whole grains at all. Also, 3 percent of children and teens and approximately 8 percent of adults consumed at least the recommended three servings per day.

The scientists also found respondents who ate the most whole grains had the highest fiber intakes: on average, nearly 0.9 ounces per day for kids and almost 1 ounce per day for adults. Children who ate the suggested amount of whole grains were 59 times more prone to be in the top third of fiber consumers, compared to those who did not report eating whole grains. Adults who met the whole grain recommendations were 76 times more likely to obtain the most fiber.

Reicks said people should try to eat whole grain versions of breads, oatmeal and other products when possible.

"Some products indicate the whole grain content in grams on the label, which is very useful if you know how much whole grain is needed to count as a serving, and some use the whole grain stamp, but not all," Reicks said.

She added that having whole grain versions of foods available at home can help children build healthy habits that may last into adulthood. Reicks said a food's ingredient list can provide clues as to which products have whole grains. If the first ingredient on the list is whole grain, the product most likely has enough to be considered a whole grain product.

"The study reinforces the preponderance of scientific evidence and supports the recommendations set forth by many dietary guidelines advisory committees within the U.S. and throughout the globe," said University of Southern California nutritionist Roger Clemens, who was not directly involved in the new study.

Clemens said people may not like the taste and texture of whole grain products. They may also avoid high-fiber foods because they tend to cause gas.

However, different sources of dietary fiber contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, Clemens noted.

"This is important since different types of dietary fiber have different functions in our bodies," he said.

Clemens also said whole grains are equally complex, adding that oats are among the whole grains highest in fiber.