According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 88% of countries are encumbered by malnutrition - ranging from chronic undernutrition to obesity - and its related diseases, including type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain types of cancer.
A 2019 report in The Lancet noted that globally, one in five deaths (11 million deaths) in 2017 were associated with a poor diet.
This can easily be addressed by increasing the consumption of whole grain – shown to come with a host of health benefits – however, the Lancet authors estimated that, globally, people are still eating less than a quarter of the recommended intake of whole grain per day.
“There is plenty of evidence to suggest that simple steps such as education campaigns and clear information on the benefits of whole grain can make a real difference to consumption levels and impact on health,” said David Clark, CEO of CPW.
Noting there is little uniformity on dietary guidelines between countries – even those that share a boarder – the Nestlé and General Mills JV is asking governments and policymakers to consider three measures to help increase consumption of whole grain in their countries.
- Consistency in dietary guidelines with emphasis on whole grain.
Globally, there are over 100 different food-based dietary guidelines, but these need to be pulled together with a greater focus on whole grains – both in the guidelines and the supporting images.
- Clear front-of-pack labels that recognise the important contribution of whole grain on healthy diets.
Front-of-pack labels (FoPLs) are efficient tools for helping consumers identify healthier food products. FOPLs have also been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a tool to help prevent non-communicable diseases. Currently, whole grain is rarely taken into consideration when designing these.
- Education and marketing campaigns on the benefits of whole grain.
A whole grain campaign run by the Danish Whole Grain Partnership (DWGP) in collaboration with the Danish government and other health non-profit organisations increased average whole grain intake among the targeted audience from 32g to 82g per day.
More than half (53%) of respondents said they actively looked for whole grain when shopping.
With a greater emphasis on educating consumers, this percentage can certainly be increased.
Helping you, helping the planet
Increasing the consumption of whole grain has the potential to not only benefit individuals, but also the planet and its other residents, said CPW.
Recent research from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) suggests that moving to a ‘planetary diet’ – one that tips the scales towards wholegrains, fruit and vegetables, with less sugar, oils, fats and meat – will help reduce wildlife loss by up to 46%; halt deforestation; and reduce food agriculture based greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30%.
CPW’s Whole Grain Day call on governments reflects the company’s purpose to Make Breakfast Better and is in line with its 2020 commitment to make whole grain the star ingredient in 99% of its ready-to-eat breakfast cereals for children and teenagers, with 100% of its cereals carrying the green banner to denote they contain a minimum 8g of whole grain per serving.
“We want to support our industry partners and governments in ensuring whole grains can become a staple part of diets around the world,” added Clark.
Manon Egnell, Zenobia Talati, Marion Gombaud, et al.
Nutrients. 2019 Aug; 11(8): 1817