RTE cereals can help close ‘chronic’ US fiber gap: Study

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

US fiber gap fueled by consumer confusion on whole grains...
US fiber gap fueled by consumer confusion on whole grains...

Related tags: Cereal

Only one in ten US consumers gets the recommended amount of fiber, but fibrous whole grain ready-to-eat (RTE) cereals can boost daily intake by around 14%, a new study finds.

The research published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine ​said the “chronic shortfall”​ in fiber intake levels has long-term implications for public health and must be changed.

The average US consumer needs to double daily fiber intake.

The study called for effective strategies to increase intakes from nutrient-dense foods without significantly adding more calories to the daily diet.

The researchers – Kellogg senior nutrition marketing partner Patricia Felt-Gunderson and co-director of educational solutions organization Healthy Start Christine L. Williams – said whole grain RTE breakfast cereals high in fiber can boost overall intake in the diet significantly.

Fiber_study_graphic

Findings showed that adults who ate whole grain cereal that included at least 3 grams of fiber for breakfast consumed 42% more fiber at breakfast and 14% more daily.

Whole grain and beyond, with knowledge…

“These results not only highlight the benefit of incorporating any whole grain RTE cereal into the diet but also, importantly, show the incremental value of selecting a whole grain RTE cereal that provides at least a good 2.5-4.9g per serving or excellent (≥5 g per serving) source of fiber,” ​the researchers wrote.

They said fiber benefits can be found beyond whole grain cereals, in those with added fiber like bran.

“If RTE cereal consumers were more aware of the actual level of fiber delivered in their cereal choices and routinely chose RTE cereal with higher fiber content, this could translate into a significant increase in fiber intake without increasing calories.”

“Simple lifestyle-change approaches like this are critical to reducing the magnitude of America’s fiber deficit.”

This would be made easy given that RTE cereals are convenient and affordable, already a top contributor to US fiber intake and a staple in around 90% of homes, the researchers said.

But, future guidance on labeling and NPD needed

The study said the US fiber deficit had been fueled by consumer confusion on the value and role of whole grains. Given the opportunities for RTE cereals to boost fiber intake, it said manufacturers need guidance on product development to ensure the fiber content is aligned with consumer expectations.

Findings of the research indicated that fiber content of RTE cereals with whole grain label statements ranged from 0-11g per serving, with only half providing an ‘excellent’ source of fiber (≥5 g per serving).

Researchers called for changes to ensure that cereals made with whole grain should contain a minimum level of 3g of fiber per serving.

The study also called for guidance on labeling of whole grains. “The lack of guidance from the FDA on the use of whole grain label statements presents a unique challenge to consumers who tend to equate whole grain content with fiber when, in reality, products indicating ‘whole grain’ may provide little or no fiber.”

Source: American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1177/1559827613479913
“Analysis of Average Daily Fiber Intake Among Ready-to-Eat Cereal Consumers: Role of Whole-Grain Cereal in Closing the Fiber Gap”
Authors: CL. Williams and P. Felt-Gunderson

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