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

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

Federal dietary guidelines for the 2012-13 school year increased the whole grain required in school lunches. Starting this fall, schools must offer only whole-grain rich products.

The new rules requiring more whole grains in school lunches should result in adolescents eating more of them, Dahl said, but many parents believe their kids won’t eat whole grains.

General Mills funded a broad study on the impact of whole grains on immunity. As part of the study, Radford wanted to know if children could meet the 2010 dietary guidelines for whole grains. For the study, 83 students in a Florida middle school were randomly assigned to receive either whole- or refined-grain foods over a six-week period in 2010. Of those, 42 students were in the refined grain group, while 41 were in the whole-grain group.

Participants and their families were given refined-grain or whole-grain pasta, rice, bread and other foods to eat at home. And they were given whole- and refined-grain snack foods to eat at school.

Researchers interviewed students weekly to see what fruits, vegetables and grains they ate in the previous 24 hours. Before the study, participants were eating about one ounce of whole grain per day. During the study, students in both groups reported eating more than 6 ounces of grains each day, and those given whole grains reported more than half their grain intake came from whole grains, meeting the 2010 dietary guidelines.

Snacks served at school were the most popular grain foods the kids ate.

“Encouraging consumption of whole-grain foods that require little to no preparation may be the most effective means of increasing whole grain intake at home,” said Radford, now a UF research study coordinator in food science and human nutrition.

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