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Study Finds Teenagers Still Not Getting Enough Whole Grains

By Greg Arnold, DC, CSCS, November 27, 2009, abstracted from “Longitudinal and secular trends in adolescent whole-grain consumption, 1999–2004” printed online November 11, 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Whole grains have been found to be beneficial to health, including blood pressure health (1) and digestive health (2).  But the average American gets less than one serving of whole grains per day and fewer than 10% of Americans consume the recommended three servings per day (3).  And although some foods, like popcorn, are a good source of whole grain (4), more awareness needs to be raised about increasing whole grain consumption.

Now a new study (5) has found that most teenagers are still not getting enough whole grain.  In the study, researchers examined whole grain intake in over 2,100 male and female teenagers who participated in at study called Project EAT (Eating among Teens) (6).

Between 1999 and 2004, they found that yeast breads, popcorn, and ready-to-eat breakfast cereals were major sources of whole grains.  In 1999, 11% of teenage males and 13% of teenage females stated they consumed more than one daily serving of whole grains.  As both male and females transitioned from middle to late adolescence, whole-grain intake increased by an average of 0.14 servings per day in males and 0.09 servings per day among females.  But these increases still leave total whole grain intake woefully inadequate among teenagers.

For the researchers, “Findings suggest the need to advance efforts that target improvements in the amount of whole-grain foods selected by adolescents.”  Fortunately, there is evidence of “an upward trend” in the introduction of new products containing whole-grain (7) since 2003, with nearly 15 times as many new whole-grain products introduced worldwide in 2007 as in 2000 (8).  Unfortunately, these foods have not found their way into schools. Data from the third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study showed only 5% of high school lunch menus included wholegrain breads or rolls in 2004–2005 (9).

Greg Arnold is a Chiropractic Physician practicing in Danville, CA.  You can contact Dr. Arnold directly by emailing him at mailto:PitchingDoc@msn.com or visiting his web site at www.CompleteChiropracticHealthcare.com


1. Behall KM.  Whole-Grain Diets Reduce Blood Pressure in Mildly Hypercholesterolemic Men and Women.  Jou Am Diet Assoc 2006; 106 (9): 1445-1449
2. Effectiveness of whole grain consumption in the prevention of colorectal cancer: Meta-analysis of cohort studies. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, printed online March 21, 2009
3. United States Department of Health and Human Services, United States Department of Agriculture, United States Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005. 6th ed. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; 2005
4. http://www.nowfoods.com/M101908.htm?cat=General%20Health
5. Burgess-Champoux TL. Longitudinal and secular trends in adolescent whole-grain consumption, 1999–2004.  Published November 11, 2009; doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28250\
6. Project EAT study details available at www.epi.umn.edu/research/eat/
7. Mancino L, Kuchler F, Leibtag F. Getting consumers to eat more whole-grains: the role of policy, information, and food manufacturers. Food Policy 2008;33:489–96.
8. Whole Grains Council. Whole grain statistics. Available from: www.wholegrainscouncil.org/newsroom/whole-grain-statistics
9. Condon E, Crepinsek M, Fox M. School meals: types of foods offered to and consumed by children at lunch and breakfast. J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109:S67–78.