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Kids Could Get More Whole Grains From After-School Snacks

July 22, 2010

Findings could help industry develop products to increase whole-grain intake

An after-school snack of graham crackers might be one way to get children to eat more whole grains, a new study from the University of Minnesota shows.

Federal nutrition guidelines recommend at least three servings a day of whole-grain foods, but previous studies have found that children typically only eat about one serving per day, largely because they don’t like the taste or texture of whole-grain foods.

In this study, researchers served graham snacks with four levels of whole-grain flour content to about 100 elementary-school children in a Roseville, Minn. after-school program. The researchers measured how much of each kind of snack was thrown away uneaten. The surprising finding: the students ate just as many crackers with higher whole-grain content as the more processed versions.

“Graham snacks provide a healthy, highly acceptable whole grain food that kids love to eat, ” says Len Marquart, the lead investigator on the study. ” This is an excellent way for kids to get up to an additional serving of whole grain per snacking occasion.”

To avoid any influence of branding or recognition of something the students had eaten before, all the crackers looked alike and the students ate from plain aluminum packets. Some of the students also participated in taste tests and focus groups about how the crackers could be improved.

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