SNA Press Releases

Study: Students Accept Whole Grains When Gradually Added to School Foods

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Contact: Erik Peterson
703-739-3900 ext 124

ALEXANDIRA, Va. (November 10, 2008) Gradually adding whole wheat flour to bread products for elementary school children increases student consumption of whole grains. A research study published in the fall 2008 issue of the Journal of Child Nutrition and Management tested the feasibility of an innovative approach that gradually increased the whole wheat content of bread products in school lunches to increase whole grain intake by children. The study authors, Renee Rosen, Dr. Marla Reicks and Dr. Len Marquart, , of the University of Minnesota Department of Food Science and Nutrition, found that such an approach may allow school nutrition directors to gradually introduce acceptable whole grain products into school menus.

The study focused on a sample of children in K-6th grade from two elementary schools in a Midwestern city. Whole red and white wheat flour content of buns and rolls served twice weekly was increased from 0% to 91% in 16 and 7 incremental levels, respectively over the school year. Red wheat products were served in one school and white wheat products in the other. Plate waste methods were used on a whole school basis to estimate consumption. Researchers examined whether whole grain and modified bread product intake differed by level of whole wheat flour and menu entrée category.

Mean consumption of whole grain (grams per child) increased as the level of red and white whole wheat flour increased in modified bread products. Consumption of modified bread products did not differ statistically from the baseline level of no whole grain flour until the 72% level for red and 67.5% level for white wheat was served. Consumption of buns and rolls varied with the type of accompanying menu items regardless of wheat type or level of whole grain flour.   

Over the past several years school nutrition programs have actively sought to increase the availability of whole grain products served as part of school lunches and breakfasts in an effort to follow the recommendations of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. According to the 2008 School Nutrition Association Back to School Trends Report, increasing the availability of whole grain products was the most popular response for the second straight year, cited by 85.2% of school nutrition directors describing food and nutrition efforts in place in their school districts.

The findings of the University of Minnesota study on gradually increasing whole wheat content in menu items will further encourage school nutrition directors to promote such products in school meals.

The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management is published by the School Nutrition Association and features up-to-date research articles on significant issues affecting child nutrition and school foodservice management. The Fall issue of the Journal is now online and can be accessed through Related Links below. Other articles in this issue include wellness policy implementation, validating plate waste studies and in-class breakfast best practices. Each issue of the Journal provides timely and relevant insights into the many challenges and opportunities surrounding child nutrition programs. Information found in the journal facilitates decision-making and serves as evidence of how effective child nutrition programs are.

SNA, the School Nutrition Association, is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country.  The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.


Related Links

Gradual Incorporation of Whole Wheat Flour into Bread Products for Elementary School Children Improves Whole Grain Intake
Renee Rosen, MS; Lelia Sadeghi; Natalia Schroeder; Marla M. Reicks, PhD, RD; Len Marquart, PhD, RD

Journal of Child Nutrition & Management Fall 2008 Issue 

The Whole (Grain) Truth and Nothing But the Truth Webinar Wednesday Nov. 12, 2008

Hot Topics Open Forum - Post a comment on whole grain student acceptability

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