Friday, September 20th, 2013
Government-subsidized food assistance programs aimed at families, specifically the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), started offering more whole grain options, including whole wheat bread and brown rice, in 2009. A new study by researchers at Yale University has concluded that the changes have positively impacted the eating habits of the families who use WIC services. More from Time.com:
Before the changes, breakfast cereals were the only grains offered to these women. But after 2009, WIC food packages included whole wheat bread, and 50% of WIC cereals contained whole grains. WIC-authorized stores were also required to carry whole wheat bread and cereal on their shelves.
Did the changes help consumers to include more whole grains in their diet? Researchers from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity studied bread and rice purchases made at a WIC participating supermarket chain in New England for two years, and reported their findings in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. They found that prior to the WIC changes, most food assistance purchases included white bread and white rice. But after the revisions, the amount of 100% whole wheat bread purchases tripled and brown rice purchases rose by 30%.
By providing more whole grain options, the researchers say, WIC officials were able to meet their goal of increasing whole grain consumption among those relying on food assistance programs.
Image: Whole grain bread, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Dr. Travis Stork, one of the hosts of the daytime television show “The Doctors,” was quoted this week in a press release saying he is “passionate about choosing products with whole grain as the first ingredient.” As The Boston Globe’s health blogger Deborah Kotz writes, the release came from the packaged foods company General Mills, which makes such sugary cereals as Trix and Lucky Charms. Kotz writes:
In a phone interview, Stork acknowledged that he was being paid by General Mills to promote whole grains but emphasized that this didn’t mean he was “endorsing General Mills” or telling parents to buy the company’s Lucky Charms, Trix, or Cookie Crisp — even if they do have whole grain as the first ingredient.
“I’m a spokesperson for whole grains,” said the emergency room physician who became famous after appearing on the reality show The Bachelor. “But I also think we should reward companies that increase the nutritional profiles of their products.”
One glance at the nutrition facts label of Trix, however, tells me that General Mills hasn’t done much to improve the cereal. While whole grain corn is the first ingredient, sugar is the second, processed corn meal is the third, and corn syrup (another sweetener) comes fourth. The product contains 10 grams of sugar — down from 13 grams last year — and just one gram of fiber.
“What whole grains do is that they give you more fiber, which makes you feel full longer and also slows the absorption of sugar,” said Stork.
When I pointed out that the General Mills’ sugary kid cereals labeled whole grain had just one or two grams of fiber, he responded, “You’re raising a valid point, which is why I tell people to read the nutrition label.”
Image: Sugary cereal, via Shutterstock
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