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NZ Beats UK & Aus On Whole Grain Awareness

NZ Beats UK & Aus On Whole Grain Awareness



New Zealanders are more likely to be able to name a whole grain than the Australians and the British, but very few know how much of them they should be eating.

A survey conducted in Britain last month showed that 46 per cent could name a whole grain, such as wheat, rye and barley, unprompted. A similar survey in Australia showed that only 24 per cent could name a whole grain without help.

Intrigued by the findings of the British and Australian surveys, Kellogg New Zealand commissioned a survey of local awareness.

The results, released today, show that 56 per cent of New Zealanders could accurately name a whole grain without help. However, a large number of people incorrectly thought that nuts, sesame seeds and noodles were whole grains and only 14 per cent knew they should eat five or more servings of foods containing whole grains per day.

The Kellogg survey, conducted by Consumer Link, also found that only 41 per cent of people check the ingredients of the food they buy most of the time and 19 per cent never check the ingredients. Fifty six per cent did not know breakfast cereal contains whole grains and only 47 per cent named bread as a food product containing whole grains.

Professor John Birkbeck, of the Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health at Massey University's Albany Campus, said even so the findings of the New Zealand study are still disappointing considering the efforts to get people to eat more whole grain foods.

"It is also disappointing considering the work of the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand and the Cancer Society of New Zealand, plus other agencies, to find that the benefits of whole grain foods were largely perceived as effects on constipation," he said.

"There is so much evidence that whole grains help prevent colon and other cancers, and coronary heart disease. This doesn't seem to be getting through to people, despite, for example, the Heart Foundation's tick of approval on breads and breakfast cereals identifying these products as heart healthy."

Heart disease and cancer, are two of New Zealand's biggest killers. The Cancer Society reports that about 7,500 people die from cancer each year, while the Heart Foundation says heart disease kills just over 9,000 people annually.

"It seems hard to change the belief that starchy foods, such as cereals, are fattening," Professor Birkbeck said. "This is even though it is many years since it was discovered that the only effective way to control weight is to eat plenty of foods high in carbohydrates, moderately high in fibre and quite low in fat."

He said people should eat a minimum of six serves of bread or cereals a day, with at least a quarter being whole grain.

"It has been shown clearly that the best health is associated with a very varied diet containing a predominance of such foods as bread and cereals, vegetables and fruits. Other foods, such as meats and dairy products, while necessary for a nutritionally complete diet, should be eaten in smaller amounts.

"With this kind of diet people are getting plenty of the numerous food components which benefit health and help prevent disease," Professor Birkbeck said.

Whole grain means all three parts of the natural grain are used, including the fibre-rich outer layer and the nutrient-packed germ. Whole grain foods include whole grain breakfast cereals, multi-grain bread or wholemeal bread, brown rice, barley, corn, and cracked wheat.

Grain-based foods are a good source of energy, fibre, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates, which help the body maintain good health and protect against many diseases. Whole grains also contain phytonutrients, which act as antioxidants and phytoestrogens.

The New Zealand survey, conducted by Consumer Link, interviewed 400 people in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.



Commissioned by Kellogg New Zealand

The New Zealand survey, conducted by Consumer Link, interviewed 400 people in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. People interviewed were 15 years and over.

*41% of people check the ingredients of the food they buy most of the time

* 19% of people never check the ingredients of the food they buy

* 59% of people could not name a food product that is a whole grain unprompted

* 33% of people incorrectly thought nuts were a whole grain (prompted)

* 61% of people incorrectly thought sesame seeds were a whole grain (prompted)

* 27% of people incorrectly thought noodles were a whole grain (prompted)

* 56% of people did not know that breakfast cereal contained whole grain (unprompted)

* 47% of people named bread (other than white and brown) as a food product containing whole grain (unprompted)

* 20% of people thought baked beans were a food product containing a whole grain (prompted)

* 41% of people felt that eating whole grains provided fibre and roughage

* 68% of people would be more likely to eat grains if they knew it reduced the risk of heart disease or cancer

* 14% of people knew it was important to eat five or more servings of grain-based foods each day.


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