The whole grain gap – comparing whole grain intakes to recommendations

At the Dietitians Association of Australia National Conference in Brisbane in May 2014 Chris Cashman, GLNC Nutrition Project Officer, presented the whole grain findings from the GLNC 2014 Consumption and Attitudinal Study which investigated Australians whole grain intakes compared with recommendations – the whole grain gap (1).

Whole grain foods such as wholemeal breads, breakfast cereals, porridge, crispbreads, wholemeal pasta and brown rice are recommended around the world as part of a healthy diet. In Australia recommendations encouraging whole grain foods include the Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADG) and the 48 gram whole grain Daily Target Intake (DTI) for adults. Each of these recommendations is underpinned by evidence that eating at least three serves of whole grain foods each day is linked with improved nutrition and a reduced risk of weight, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.(2,3)

To compare Australians whole grain intakes to recommendations, GLNC conducted its third national Consumption and Attitudinal Study in March 2014, collecting two days of food intake data from 3,031 Australians aged 2 – 70 years. (2)

The survey found that 65% of Australians eat whole grain foods daily, with whole grain or wholemeal breads, porridge and breakfast cereals being the most common choices. On average Australians eat only 1.69 serves of whole grain foods each day (less than 2 slices of bread) this is less than half of the average 3.88 daily serves of core grain foods (grain foods recommended as part of the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating).

Overall the key finding of this survey was that 75% Australians are not meeting the whole grain recommendations of 3 serves or more each day and the 48 gram whole grain DTI.  Of particular concern is that this is being driven by 40% of adults and 50% of children eating less than one serve of whole grain foods each day

This finding clearly demonstrates that the whole grain gap continues to exist and suggests many Australians are not may benefit from the reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes associated with increasing whole grain intakes. As such there is an ongoing need to encourage Australians to enjoy a variety of grain foods, choosing mostly whole grain and high fibre grain foods.

To help Australians choose higher in whole grain foods GLNC has taken an active role by establishing an Industry Standard through the Code of Practice for Whole Grain Ingredient Content Claims. This Industry Standard requires foods to contain a minimum amount of 8 grams or more of whole grain per serve to carry a whole grain claim on its packaging.

To register your interest in GLNC’s publication of the 2014 Consumption and Attitudinal Study Report available from October 2014, please email contactus@glnc.org.au.


  1. Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council. 2014 Australian Grains and Legumes Consumption and Attitudinal Report. Unpublished: 2014.
  2. NHMRC. Australian Dietary Guidelines Providing the scientific evidence for healthier Australian diets. 2013 Accessed online January 2014.
  3. Griffiths T. Towards an Australian ‘daily target intake’ for wholegrains. Food Australia. 2007


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