Whole Grain Intake in College Students and its Association with Body Mass Index
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans consume at least three servings of whole grain foods per day to reduce the risk of chronic disease and to help with weight maintenance. However, most Americans fall short of this recommendation. To reduce the prevalence of chronic disease, overweight, and obesity, health educators should promote healthy behaviors at young ages. The purpose of this study was to measure whole grain intake in college students and to determine its association with body mass index (BMI), a measure of overweight and obesity. The participants (N=164) were recruited from a freshmen level nutrition course (of 485 students) at Virginia Tech in spring of 2004. Students kept food records to record their usual diets for 14 days, and had their height and weight measured by the researchers in order to determine their BMI. On average, the students consumed 5.4±1.7 (mean±SD) servings of grain based foods per day, of which 13% (0.71±0.76 servings) were from whole grain foods. The students who were in the normal weight range (based on their BMI) consumed more servings of whole grains per day than the overweight and obese students (ANOVA with linear contrasts; p<0.05). Results from this study indicate that whole grain intake is low in college students, but similar to the national average, and higher in students with a normal body weight. Efforts should be made to help develop healthy eating habits in this population, including increasing whole grain intake.