Full Papers

Comparative whole-grain intake of British adults in 1986–7 and 2000–1

Christopher W. Thanea1 c1, Angela R. Jonesa2, Alison M. Stephena1, Christopher J. Seala2 and Susan A. Jebba1

a1 MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Fulbourn Road, Cambridge, CB1 9NL, UK

a2 Human Nutrition Research Centre, School of Agriculture, Food & Rural Development, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK


Epidemiological evidence suggests that higher consumption of whole-grain foods can significantly reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as CVD, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. The present study compares whole-grain intake of 2086 adults aged 16–64 years from the 1986–7 Dietary and Nutritional Survey of British Adults with that of 1692 adults aged 19–64 years from the 2000–1 National Diet and Nutrition Survey. For each survey, whole-grain intake was estimated from consumption of all foods containing ≥ 10 % whole-grain content (as DM/fresh weight of food) from 7 d weighed dietary records. In 1986–7, median whole-grain intake was 16 (interquartile range 0–45) g/d v. 14 (interquartile range 0–36) g/d in 2000–1 (P < 0·001). In 1986–7, 77 % of adults had less than three 16 g amounts of whole-grain intake/d; 25 % reported no whole-grain intake. In 2000–1, corresponding percentages were 84 and 29 %, respectively. Foods with < 51 % whole-grain content provided 18 % of whole-grain intake in 1986–7 v. 27 % in 2000–1 (P < 0·001). In both surveys, whole-grain intake was significantly lower among adults with a manual v. non-manual occupation (indicative of lower socio-economic status) and among smokers v. non-smokers, independent of occupational social class. In 1986–7, whole-grain breakfast cereals and wholemeal bread contributed 28 and 48 % of whole-grain intake, respectively, v. 45 and 31 % in 2000–1. At each time, one-third of adults consumed neither of these two largest contributors to whole-grain intake. Findings from the present study suggest that whole-grain intake of British adults was low in 1986–7 and became even lower over the subsequent decade.

(Received July 12 2006)

(Revised November 20 2006)

(Accepted November 24 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: Mr C. W. Thane, fax +44 (0)1223 437515, email Christopher.Thane@mrc-hnr.cam.ac.uk


Abbreviations: IQR, interquartile range