Kids Not Making the Grade in Whole Grains

February 22, 2010

We are all well aware of the plethora of benefits that can be gained from including whole grains in our daily meals.

We are all well aware of the plethora of benefits that can be gained from including whole grains in our daily meals. Studies show that people who choose whole grains over refined or highly processed grain products experience a reduced risk of heart disease and thus a healthier cardiovascular system, are more likely to sustain a healthy weight and also demonstrate a reduced risk in certain cancers. 
Unfortunately today’s youth not does not palate whole grains well, and according to Project EAT data, are only consuming around 0.6 to 0.7 servings per day, far less than the recommended three daily servings. A study published in February’s Journal of the American Dietetic Association sought to uncover barriers to whole grain consumption, by assessing influencers, modifiable factors and interventions that may prove critical for addressing this gap. The study used data from Project EAT (Educate, Act, Thrive) which provides nutrition education and physical activity promotion for preschool - 12th grade students in Alameda County, CA, during and after school. 

Researchers examined data on whole grain consumption of 792 adolescents and 1,686 young adults whose age ranged from 15-23.  Results revealed several factors that led to decreased consumption, including lack of access to whole grain foods at home, in school and at restaurants. Lack of access or availability was linked to taste preference for refined, not whole grains, and fast food consumption corresponded to a lower overall intake of whole grains. Researchers were not able to determine which factors have the largest influence on whole grain consumption. 
The researchers commented that, “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 Lempert Report fully supports the notion of increasing availability first and foremost in the home, and then in restaurants and schools.  When children, adolescents, and young adults, Koodies, are accustomed to eating certain foods at home, and they are widely available outside of the home, they have no qualms with eating them, even if they are considered a healthy option. The Koodies Social Network {}  encourages kids and adolescents to participate in the food experience - preparing meals, knowing where foods come from, and taking time to sit down to enjoy them. When children understand and are part of the food experience they are much more apt to consume a variety of foods and undoubtedly this includes whole grains.