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Food Assistance Programs Effective in Getting People to Eat More Whole-Grain

Update Date: Sep 19, 2013 04:24 PM EDT
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Governments and organizations have worked hard to implement programs that promote a healthier lifestyle centered on diet and physical activity. Even though these programs help educate people, getting them to actually change what they eat and how much they exercise can be difficult. In a new study, however, researchers discovered that a food assistance program was effective in increasing the consumption of whole-grains.

For this study headed by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, the researchers looked at statistics from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). In 2009, this program was modified to offer participants foods that better fit dietary recommendations within America. The current guidelines recommend Americans to consume at least three servings of whole grains each day. The WIC program now includes food products centered on whole grains.

After examining the purchases people under the WIC program made over the span of two-years, the researchers found that the participants were buying more whole grain products. Before the WIC was modified, white bread and white rice dominated the carbohydrate section. Now, even though these options are still more popular, the consumption of 100 percent whole-grain bread has increased from eight percent to 24 percent. The amount of brown rice purchases rose by 30 percent.

"Increasing whole-grain consumption was one of the goals for revising the WIC food packages," said Tatiana Andreyeva, lead author and director of economic initiatives at the Rudd Center. "This study shows that the revisions were successful and necessary, given inadequate whole-grain consumption and overconsumption of refined grains, particularly among low-income families."

The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine Pediatrics.

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