What’s the big deal? UK consumers still unsure of the importance of whole grain

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

The majority of British adults are still in the dark over the importance of whole grain. Pic: ©GettyImages/Gabriel Vergani/EyeEm/MicrovOne
The majority of British adults are still in the dark over the importance of whole grain. Pic: ©GettyImages/Gabriel Vergani/EyeEm/MicrovOne

Related tags Breakfast cereals Whole grain Fibre The Lancet Uk Shredded Wheat Cheerios

Research by Nestlé Cereals has revealed that the majority of British adults still have a ‘limited understanding’ of whole grain and its importance.

While whole grain and high fiber foods have been gaining traction over the past couple of years, new research by Nestle Cereals has revealed that 74% of the UK adults are still unaware that whole grain can help to reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes.

Another 45% are unaware that it is good for heart health.

The importance of whole grain cannot be overstated, evident in numerous published studies on the risks of a low consumption versus the benefits of a diet high in whole grain and fiber.

Earlier this month, British peer-reviewed medical journal The Lancet published a study commissioned by the World Health Organization that found a link between higher intakes of dietary fiber and whole grain foods and a reduction in the risk of several diseases,​ including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.

Public confusion

“This study is essential as there is increased public confusion over what to base our meal choices on, and the impact our dietary choices have on our risk of certain diseases,”​ said co-author Professor Jim Mann from the University of Otago, New Zealand, noting that only 9% of UK adults consumed the recommended 30g of fiber per day.

Lead author Dr Andrew Reynolds added the results provide convincing evidence that consumers should increase dietary fiber intake and replace refined grains with whole grain.

“Our research indicates we should have at least 25g to 29g of fiber from foods daily, although most of us currently consume less than 20g of fiber daily,”​ he said.

“Practical ways to increase fiber intake is to base meals and snacks around whole grain, vegetables, pulses and whole fruits.”

Great starts with whole grain

Nestle banner

Nestlé Cereals has made whole grain a primary ingredient across its breakfast cereals portfolio, including Shredded Wheat and Cheerios, and has recently launched the ‘Great starts with whole grain’ campaign to educate consumers on the benefits of wholegrain.

“Whole grain plays an important role in a healthy, balanced diet but unfortunately, as our research shows, many people have a limited understanding of its benefits,”​ said Toby Baker, marketing director for Nestle Cereals in the UK and Australia.

“Whether it’s not knowing which foods contain whole grain or not realising that whole grain is a source of fiber, vitamins and other nutrients, it’s clear that there are a lot of misconceptions among UK consumers.

“Our campaign aims to address this and raise awareness of the fact that our breakfast cereals that feature the green banner on-pack are an easy way to get a daily dose of fiber and whole grain,”​ added Baker.


Carbohydrate quality and human health: a series of systematic reviews and meta-analyses

Authors: Andrew Reynolds, Prof Jim Mann, Prof John Cummings, et al

The Lancet (2019). DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31809-9

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