Whole grain and high-fibre grain foods: How do knowledge, perceptions and attitudes affect food choice?
The health benefits of whole grains and dietary fibre are well established, however intakes of both remain low across the globe. Innovative added-fibre refined grain products may present a solution to increase fibre intakes given potential sensory barriers to whole grain intake. However, to consider the efficacy of such products, or potential alternative measures, an awareness of consumer knowledge, perceptions and attitudes towards both whole grain and added-fibre grain foods is needed. Focus groups (with adults with no formal nutrition education) were conducted to explore factors affecting consumer grain choice. Discussions were transcribed verbatim and analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Nine focus groups composed of 52 participants (23 men; 29 women) were conducted. Participants tended to report choosing 'grainy' bread but few other whole grain foods. Most participants were unaware of the long-term health benefits of whole grains, recommended whole grain intakes, or how to identify foods that were high in whole grains, thereby limiting motivation to increase intake. Additionally, scepticism surrounding the health value of carbohydrate-based foods appeared to hinder grain intakes in general. These findings suggest that further public education and promotion of whole grain benefits, with a focus on food-based targets and messaging, may be important in efforts to increase whole grain and subsequently fibre intakes. Added-fibre grain products may be a useful addition, specifically for avid whole grain-avoiders who are unlikely to accept whole grain sensory properties. However, as most participants were open to whole grain consumption, industry innovation should also focus efforts on increasing availability and variety of products high in whole grains.