A study published in Nutrition Today, co-authored by the senior director of nutrition science at Kellogg Company – Consumer misperceptions about whole grains and fibre: A call for improving whole grain labelling and education –found that around 85% of consumers think foods labelled as wholegrain are a good or excellent source of dietary fibre.
The research, led by Betsy Hornick, found that consumers equate wholegrain foods with fibre claims however findings revealed that many food products with wholegrain label statements contained ‘less than a good source’ of fibre (lower than 3 grams per serving).
“The fibre in whole grains makes important contributions to health, yet the fibre content of wholegrains and products containing them, varies widely,” the researchers wrote.
The Kellogg Company sponsored a roundtable meeting in October 2011 – ‘Filling America’s Fibre Gap: Probing realistic solutions’ – that also concluded that wholegrain labelling of foods may be a source of consumer confusion regarding fibre content.
“There has been a proliferation of packaged foods that boast their ‘wholegrain’ content,” the roundtable participants said, and “it has become increasingly clear that labelling claims for ‘fibre’ and ‘wholegrain’ may be synonymous in the minds of consumers…yet all wholegrain foods do not qualify as a ‘good’ source of fibre.”
Hornick said that research showed a good indication that consumers are continuing to look at ways to increase fibre in their diets, yet “many consumers mistakenly believe all wholegrain foods provide the added fibre they are looking for.”
Consumer education, claims regulations
DeAnn Liska, senior director of nutrition science at Kellogg Company, detailed that a ‘good source of fibre’ is 3 grams or more.
‘High fibre’ foods must contain at least 5 grams of fibre per serving and most foods must have added fibre in addition to wholegrains, according to the US Whole Grains Council. Fruit, vegetables, legumes and wholegrains are all considered fibrous foods. Fibre intake has been linked to improved weight control and cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health.
The researchers suggested a “multifaceted approach is warranted to reduce confusion and help increase Americans’ fibre intake, including better regulation of wholegrain label claims and emphasis on consumer education to promote greater fibre intakes from wholegrain choices.”
Liska said “Americans can increase their intake of fibre by making informed choices when it comes to the foods they eat.” She recommended studying nutritional guidelines to ensure that foods provide 3 grams or more of fibre per serving.
Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, Frosted Mini-Wheats, Froot Loops and Apple Jacks contain 8g of wholegrains per serving in a bid to “help consumers meet their fibre needs,” the firm said.