Consumer Understanding of the Australian Dietary Guidelines: Recommendations for Legumes and Whole Grains

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Dietary guidelines provide evidence-based guidance for healthy individuals to improve dietary patterns, although they are most often based on individual foods or food groups. Legumes are a class of food included in current Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG), mentioned in two of the five food groups, as a vegetable and as an alternative to meat. Whole grain consumption is encouraged in ADG via the statement focused on cereal grains due to their health-promoting properties. Despite their prominence in guidelines, average legume and whole grain consumption in Australia remains lower than recommendations outlined in the ADG. This exploratory study aimed to understand consumer perspectives of wording utilised in dietary guidelines specifically focused on legumes and whole grains. Based on the analysis, there was a significant preference for the statement “each day, consume at least one serve of legumes either as a serve of vegetables or as an alternative to meat” (p < 0.05), which provides a specific frequency and quantification for legume consumption. For whole grain, the significantly preferred statement was “choose whole grain products over refined grains/white flour products whenever you can” indicating a less prescriptive option. Effective messaging in guidelines could consider greater specificity regarding frequency, quantity and quality of foods recommended. This exploratory study suggests an improvement in the adoption and consumption of legumes and whole grains in the Australian diet may be better facilitated through consumer-tested messaging.

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University of Queensland



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