Whole grains and health: attitudes to whole grains against a prevailing background of increased marketing and promotion
Objective To explore current awareness and perceptions of whole grain foods and perceived barriers and facilitators of whole grain consumption. Design Focus groups were conducted to investigate consumer attitudes to whole grains. Discussions were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. Setting Discussions were held throughout Northern Ireland with adults who were at least partly responsible for food shopping. Subjects Seven focus groups were held (n 43; thirty-three females, ten males). Results All participants were aware of the term âwhole grainâ and had a basic level of awareness of their health benefits. Prominent barriers and facilitators of whole grain intake were related to perceptions of the sensory properties (most dominant factor) of whole grains; knowledge of how to locate, identify and use whole grains; and awareness of the health benefits, perceived cost and family influences. Parents of young children appeared to be altruistically motivated with many stating they wanted to ensure their children consumed whole grains in order to establish good eating habits. Conclusions Participants were generally aware of the term âwhole grainâ; however, even against a background of increased availability and promotion of whole grain foods, many key barriers to whole grain consumption were still evident. Alongside general education efforts, opportunities and challenges exist for the food industry to develop novel, but affordable, food products that are able to deliver whole grains in a wide variety of forms, including whole grains âin disguiseâ for those who are most resistant to change.