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The Fiber Deficit, Part II: Consumer Misperceptions About Whole Grains and Fiber: A Call for Improving Whole-Grain Labeling and Education

Hornick, Betsy MS, RD; Dolven, Cheryl MS, RD; Liska, DeAnn PhD

doi: 10.1097/NT.0b013e31825744cf
Nutrient Spotlight on Fiber

As discussed in part I of this series, the fiber in whole grains makes important contributions to health, yet the fiber content of whole grains and products containing them varies widely. Moreover, fiber remains a nutrient of concern for Americans. Given the ongoing fiber deficit, consumer research was conducted to assess consumer understanding of fiber as it relates to whole-grain foods and the actual fiber content of foods that make whole-grain claims. The results reveal that consumers equate whole-grain label statements with claims about fiber content and choose products containing whole grains with the expectation of increasing their fiber intake. Marketplace research found that many food products with whole-grain label statements contain less than a “good source” of fiber (labeled as <3 g per serving). A multifaceted approach is warranted to reduce confusion and help increase Americans’ fiber intake, including better regulation of whole-grain label claims and emphasis on consumer education to promote greater fiber intakes from whole-grain choices.

Lack of understanding about fiber clouds consumer comprehension, and here are some suggestions for remediation

Betsy Hornick, MS, RD, is a nutrition writer and consultant, specializing in food, nutrition, and health communications.

Cheryl Dolven, MS, RD, is director of Health and Wellness, Darden Restaurants, Orlando, Florida, and formerly US director of Nutrition Marketing, Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, Michigan.

DeAnn Liska, PhD, is US director of Nutrition Science, Kellogg Company, Battle Creek, Michigan.

This report was supported by an unrestricted education grant from The Kellogg Company.

Ms Hornick has declared that she is a member of FoodMinds’ expert network. FoodMinds is a food and nutrition affairs company that represents a range of food, nutrition, and wellness organizations, including the Kellogg Company.

Correspondence: Betsy Hornick, MS, RD, 3016 Fairchild St, Poplar Grove, IL 61065 ( bhornickrd@aol.com).

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.