Offer kids whole grains; they’ll eat them, study shows

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Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 11:25 AM.

Many parents assume their children will shun whole grains because they think they don’t like them, a University of Florida researcher says, but a new UF study may start to debunk that idea.

If whole grains are offered, kids eat them, according to a new study by researchers at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Specifically, former graduate student Allyson Radford and two faculty members found children ate whole- and refined-grain foods in equal amounts.

“We tried to choose foods we thought kids would enjoy, such as cereal bars, macaroni and cheese and SunChips and found that they ate the ready-to-eat snack foods the most,” said Radford, one of the study’s authors. “We were interested to see if they would eat the whole-grain foods as much as the refined-grain foods, and so we were pleasantly surprised that they would eat the same amount whether the food was whole or refined.”

Radford co-wrote the paper with assistant professor Wendy Dahl and professor Bobbi Langkamp-Henken, all of whom are in the food science and human nutrition department. The study was published online last week by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Eating whole grains, combined with a healthy diet, may reduce the risk of heart disease and help with weight management, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Examples of whole-grain foods include popcorn, oats, whole wheat bread and brown rice. Refined grains, enriched and fortified with nutrients, include foods such as white rice and white bread.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans call for at least half the grain consumers eat to be whole grains, and they urge adolescents to consume 5  to 7 ounces of grains daily with at least half being whole grains. National surveys suggest adolescents consume far less: about 1 ounce, or the grain contained in one slice of bread.

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