Research Article| Volume 29, ISSUE 6, P611-620, June 2019

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Consumption of whole grain food and its determinants in a general Italian population: Results from the INHES study


      • Whole grain food is consumed on a regular basis (≥ 1 time/week) by 26.9% of the large sample of Italians.
      • The major food sources of whole grain are represented by bread, biscuits and pasta.
      • Whole grain consumption is likely to be influenced by socioeconomic status.


      Background and aims

      Whole grain (WG) food consumption is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and neurological diseases. The aim of this study was to assess the consumption of WG food and its major demographic, socioeconomic, psychosocial and behavioral determinants in a general Italian population.

      Methods and results

      Data were from the Italian Nutrition & Health Survey (INHES), a telephone-based survey established in 2010–2013 including 9422 participants aged ≥5 years from all over Italy. WG food intake was assessed by the European Food Propensity Questionnaire and included bread, pasta, breakfast cereals, biscuits and WG soups. WG consumption was categorized as none, occasional (<1 time/week) and regular (≥1 time/week). Overall, 26.9% of the sample reported a regular consumption of WG food (27.2% of adults aged 20–97 y, and 21.9% of children/adolescents aged 5–19 y). In both age-groups, the major food source contributing to total WG intake was WG bread followed by WG pasta. Among adults, greater consumption of WG was associated with healthier lifestyle (e.g. sport activity), and higher educational level. Eating meals outside of the house in adults, and spending >2 h/day watching TV in children/adolescents were inversely associated with WG intake.


      The percentage of WG consumers in Italy in 2010–2013 appears to be quite low and still below that recorded in other countries of Europe where consumption is frequently over 50 percent. WG consumption is likely to be influenced by socioeconomic status and is associated with a number of psychosocial factors, meal patterns and eating-related behaviors.


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