Teens Don’t Eat Enough Grains, More People Include Fish in Diet


Teens are not consuming enough whole grain foods, according to a recent study from the University of Minnesota at St. Paul and featured in the January issue of Food Nutrition & Science.

The study, that analyzed adolescents aged 12 to 19 years old in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES, 1999-2004), found that less than one third consumed more than .5 whole grain ounce equivalents per day.

The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, released in January 2011 recommends that all adults eat at least half their grains as whole grains—that's at least three-to-five servings of whole grains. Even children need two-to-three servings or more.  According to the Whole Grains Council, consumption lags far behind these recommendations. For example, the average American eats less than one daily serving of whole grains, and some studies show that over 40 percent of Americans never eat whole grains at all.

"This is an opportunity for food companies, school nutrition programs and retailers to market the health benefits of grains and create easier access to products and recipes," says Phil Lempert, founder of Food Nutrition & Science and CEO of The Lempert Report. "Whole grain intake has been associated with improved chronic disease risk factors and weight status in adults, and we know that healthy food habits start young."

Also in this month's Food Nutrition & Science, an article on how food apps are connecting younger consumers to shopping and cooking. The article highlights Truffehead, an app that features over 260 recipes, comprehensive information on ingredients and kitchen tools, step-by-step demos and sustainability tips, user forums, and more. Although Trufflehead's recipes are appealing for any cooking level, its architecture was designed specifically for inexperienced and intermediate cooks.

"People tend to consume less and eat more healthfully at home than in restaurants, so cooking is virtually essential to maintaining a healthy weight and it's also fun," says Lempert. "I applaud these apps that help consumers shop smarter, eat healthier, learn to cook and better understand the products and food they're selecting from.

January's Food Nutrition & Science also includes information about the Australis Barramundi, also known as the "sustainable seabass," a fish that is growing in popularity due to its low toxin levels, delicious taste, and high levels of heart and brain-healthy omega-3's. In addition, barramundi can thrive on a vegetarian diet and are naturally disease resistant. 

Results from a recent The Lempert Report consumer panel found that just under half of consumers (46 percent) have increased the amount of fish in their diet in the past year; 39 percent say the amount of fish they eat has stayed the same. Those who answered yes to eating more fish in the past year have done so because "it's healthy" (20 percent), they "love the taste" (12 percent), they are "eating less meat protein and switching to fish" (18 percent), or they want to increase their "omega" intake (10 percent).

Lempert adds, "There's a lot of confusion about fish and I think we would see an increase in consumption if consumers better understood what type to eat, how often, and which fish are the safest. This is a great opportunity for retailers and even an app maker who can help consumers make fish choices."

Among other articles in this month's Food Nutrition & Science, the results of a Washington State University study that suggests the carbon footprint of beef is shrinking. The study compared today's beef production impact to that of the production system in 1977, revealing some striking improvements in current practices.

Published in a recent issue of the Journal of Animal Science, the study found that, compared to beef production in the 70s, each pound of beef raised in 2007 used 33 percent less land, 12 percent less water, 19 percent less feed and 9 percent less fossil fuel energy. Waste outputs were similarly reduced, shrinking the carbon footprint of beef by 16.3 percent in 30 years.

For more information on the journal Food Nutrition & Science, please visit FoodNutritionScience.com.