Background Whole grain consumption is associated with reduced risks of chronic disease. One-fifth of UK adults and children do not consume whole grain, and adolescents have particularly low consumption rates. There is little research on important correlates of whole grain consumption in this age group. This study aims to explore the socio-economic, environmental, lifestyle, and psychological factors influencing adolescent whole grain intake via in-depth interviews, using SenseCam technology.
Methods Eight participants (4 males; 4 females) from the city of Leeds, UK, took part in the study (aged 11–16 years). Participants wore the SenseCam device for three days, where it auto-captured photos of their day-to-day activities and dietary habits every twenty seconds. Participants undertook traditional 24-hour recalls, followed by in-depth interviews for attitudes towards, knowledge and consumption of wholegrain foods; as well as the various barriers to, and facilitators of, consumption. SenseCam images were used to prompt conversation during the interviews. Interviews were audio-recorded and analysed using inductive thematic analysis, using coding techniques from grounded theory.
Results The majority of participants had tried wholegrain foods in the past and consumed them occasionally when available. Adolescents were more influenced by parents and online media than by peers, but had little knowledge of why wholegrain foods were the healthier option. Most adolescents related the concept of whole grain to wholemeal toast, and were not aware that varieties they already consumed and enjoyed, such as popcorn, quinoa and brown rice, were also whole grain. Barriers to eating wholegrain foods included difficulties in identifying them and their health benefits, negative views towards taste and visual appeal as well as poor availability outside the home. Suggested facilitators to consumption were advertisements, awareness campaigns, improved sensory appeal, increased availability and variety, and tailoring of products for young people. SenseCam use was helpful in prompting open, realistic conversation as well as highlighting issues with self-reported dietary recall and whole grain identification.
Conclusion This study is a formative stage in building a questionnaire that explores correlates; and quantifies whole grain intake in a small group of UK adolescents. Outcomes of this study may inform future research and health promotion, to increase whole grain intake in this age group.
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