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Kids may eat more whole grains if they are simply offered to them

Harold Mandel's picture
Whole grain bread

It often seems that it's almost impossible to get your kids to eat what's really good for them. Kids often appear addicted to sugary junk food. What can happen to a severely nutrient deficient kid is a serious matter with a weakened immune system, increased risk for cancer and an increased risk for emotional problems being among the problems which may be encountered. There's some good news about this problem with a new study showing kids will often respond favorably to offers of whole grains.

Adolescents are not eating enough whole grains

According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, at least half of total grain consumption should be whole grains reported the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The recommended daily intake of whole grains is not presently being consumed by adolescents.

It has therefore been suggested that research has been necessary to ascertain whether or not whole grains are acceptable to adolescents and whether altering their food environment to include whole-grain foods will improve consumption. The goal of the present study was to determine the effect of providing refined-grain or whole-grain foods to adolescents along with encouragement to eat three different grain-based foods daily, on total grain and whole-grain consumption.

Middle school students between 11 and 15 years old were chosen for this study. The students were randomly assigned to either refined-grain or whole-grain foods for a period of 6 weeks. Weekly grains in the form of bread, pasta, and cereals were provided to participants and their families. Participants were also provided with grain snacks at school. The actual intake of grains in ounce equivalents was determined via diet recalls.

Providing adolescents with whole-grain foods meets with success

During the period of the intervention whole-grain consumption was observed to increase in the whole-grain group. However, those participants in the refined-grain group lowered whole-grain consumption. The bottom line is providing adolescents with whole-grain foods in their school and home environments was found to be an effective means of achieving the recommendations for whole grain intake.

It has been seen if you take the time to offer kids whole grains they’ll eat them reports the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. It has often been seen that many parents make the presumption that their kids will refuse whole grains because they think they simply don’t like them.However, this new study raises serious questions about this idea.

According to this new study by researchers at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences if whole grains are simply offered to kids they really will eat them. Former graduate student Allyson Radford who was one of the studies authors said the researchers attempted to choose foods they thought kids would enjoy, such as:

1: Cereal bars

2: Macaroni and cheese

3: SunChips

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Kids like whole-grain foods as much as the refined-grain foods

It was observed the kids ate the ready-to-eat snack foods the most. The researchers wanted to see if the kids would eat the whole-grain foods as much as the refined-grain foods. They were said to be pleasantly surprised to see that the kids would eat the same amount whether the food was whole or refined.

Eating whole grains has been associated with important positive health benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture along with a healthy diet eating whole grains may lower the risk of heart disease and help with weight management. Some good examples of whole grain foods are:

1: Popcorn

2: Oats

3: Whole wheat bread

4: Brown rice

Refined grains which are enriched and fortified with nutrients include foods such as white bread and white rice.

At least half the grain consumers eat should be whole grains

It is suggested in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans that at least half the grain consumers eat should be whole grains. Adolescents should be encouraged to consume 5 to 7 ounces of grains daily with at least half of this being whole grains. National surveys have suggested adolescents are consuming far less than what is recommended, or just about 1 ounce daily, which is the grain contained in a single slice of bread.

In the 2012-2013 federal dietary guidelines the requirement for whole grains in school lunches was increased. Schools now must offer only whole-grain rich products. The new rules requiring more whole grains in school lunches has been anticipated to result in adolescents eating more of them. Radford, who is now a UF research study coordinator in food science and human nutrition, says encouraging consumption of whole-grain foods which require little to no preparation may be the most effective means of increasing whole grain consumption at home.

The vital importance of good nutrition for our kids should never be forgotten. The analogy to a car needing fuel to run properly doesn't really drive this point home hard enough. After all a car with an empty tank can be filled up with gasoline again and take off. However, if a kids system lacks good nutrition for too long the tragic health consequences can lead to chronic illness and even death.

The time to stop encouraging your kids to eat well is never. This study showing that kids will often eat whole grains if they are simply offered to them is encouraging. The easy approach of simply offering kids healthy foods to eat should also be tried with other healthy foods such as fish, vegetables, fruit, milk, cheese and some eggs.