Research brief| Volume 39, ISSUE 2, P90-94, March 2007

Whole-Grain Intake is Associated with Body Mass Index in College Students



      To measure whole-grain intake in college students and determine the association with body mass index (BMI).


      Cross-sectional convenience sample of college students enrolled in an introductory nutrition course.


      Large state university.


      159 college students, mean age: 19.9.

      Main outcome measures

      Intake of whole grains, refined grains, calories, and fiber from food records; BMI determined from height and weight measurements.


      Analysis of variance with linear contrasts; participants grouped by BMI category (P < .05).


      Average intake of cereal grains was 5.4 servings per day, of which whole-grain intake accounted for an average of 0.7 servings per day. Whole-grain intake was significantly higher in normal weight students than in overweight and obese students (based on BMI).

      Conclusions and Implications

      The low intake of whole grains in this population of college students indicates the need for interventions aiming to increase whole-grain intake to the recommended minimum of 3 servings per day. College students who are concerned about their body weight may be motivated to increase their intake of whole-grain foods; however, their intake of whole grains is likely to be influenced by the availability of these food items in campus dining halls and other locations around the college campus.

      Key Words

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access

      SNEB Member Login

      SNEB Members, full access to the journal is a member benefit. Login via the SNEB Website to access all journal content and features.


      Subscribe to Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


      1. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. Available online at: Accessed May 2, 2005.

        • Cleveland L.E.
        • Moshfegh A.J.
        • Albertson A.M.
        • Goldman J.D.
        Dietary intake of whole grains.
        J Am Coll Nutr. 2000; 19: 331S-338S
        • Harnack L.
        • Walters S.A.
        • Jacobs D.R.
        Dietary intakes and food sources of whole grains among U.S. children and adolescents: data from the 1994-1996 Continuing Study of Food Intakes by Individuals.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2003; 103: 1015-1019
        • Steffen L.M.
        • Jacobs D.R.
        • Murtaugh M.A.
        • et al.
        Whole grain intake is associated with lower body mass and greater insulin sensitivity among adolescents.
        Am J Epidemiol. 2003; 158: 243-250
        • McKeown N.
        • Meigs J.
        • Liu S.
        • Wilson P.
        • Jacques P.
        Whole-grain intake is favorably associated with metabolic risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the Framingham Offspring Study.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 2002; 76: 390-398
        • Liu S.
        • Willet W.C.
        • Manson J.E.
        • Hu F.B.
        • Rosner B.
        • Colditz G.
        Relation between changes in intakes of dietary fiber and grain products and changes in weight and development of obesity among middle-aged women.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 2003; 78: 920-927
        • Koh-Banerjee P.
        • Franz M.
        • Sampson L.
        • et al.
        Changes in whole-grain, bran, and cereal fiber consumption in relation to 8-y weight gain among men.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 2004; 80: 1237-1245
        • Slavin J.L.
        Dietary fiber and body weight.
        Nutrition. 2005; 21: 411-418
        • Liu S.
        • Stampfer M.J.
        • Hu F.B.
        • et al.
        Whole-grain consumption and risk of coronary heart disease: results from the Nurse’s Health Study.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 1999; 70: 412-419
        • Jacobs D.
        • Meyer K.
        • Kushi L.
        • Folsom A.
        Whole-grain intake may reduce the risk of ischemic heart disease death in postmenopausal women: the Iowa Women’s Health Study.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 1998; 68: 248-257
        • Jensen M.K.
        • Koh-Banerjee P.J.
        • Hu F.B.
        • et al.
        Intakes of whole grains, bran, and germ and the risk of coronary heart disease in men.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 2004; 80: 1492-1499
        • Fung T.T.
        • Hu F.B.
        • Pereira M.A.
        • et al.
        Whole-grain intake and the risk of type 2 diabetes: a prospective study in men.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 2002; 76: 535-540
        • Montonen J.
        • Knekt P.
        • Jarvinea R.
        • Aromaa A.
        • Reunanea A.
        Whole grain and fiber intake and the incidence of type 2 diabetes.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 2003; 77: 622-629
        • Salmeron J.
        • Manson J.E.
        • Stampfer M.J.
        • Colditz G.A.
        • Wing A.L.
        • Willet W.C.
        Dietary fiber, glycemic load, and risk of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in women.
        JAMA. 1997; 277: 472-477
        • Jacobs D.R.
        • Marquart L.
        • Slavin J.
        • Kushi L.H.
        Whole-grain intake and cancer: an expanded review and meta-analysis.
        Nutr Cancer. 1998; 30: 85-96
        • McKeown N.M.
        • Meigs J.B.
        • Liu S.
        • Saltzman E.
        • Wilson P.W.
        • Jacques P.F.
        Carbohydrate nutrition, insulin resistance, and the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in the Framingham Offspring cohort.
        Diabetes Care. 2004; 27: 538-546
        • Esmaillzadeh A.
        • Mirmiran P.
        • Azizi F.
        Whole-grain consumption and the metabolic syndrome: a favorable association in Tehranian adults.
        Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005; 59: 353-362
        • Hedley A.A.
        • Ogden C.L.
        • Johnson C.L.
        • Carroll M.D.
        • Curtin L.R.
        • Flegal K.M.
        Prevalence of overweight and obesity among US children, adolescents, and adults, 1999-2002.
        JAMA. 2004; 291: 2847-2850
        • Gordon-Larsen P.
        • Adair L.S.
        • Nelson M.C.
        • Popkin B.M.
        Five-year obesity incidence in the transition period between adolescence and adulthood: the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 2004; 80: 569-575
        • Butler S.M.
        • Black D.R.
        • Blue C.L.
        • Gretebeck R.J.
        Change in diet, physical activity and body weight in female college freshman.
        Am J Health Behav. 2004; 28: 24-32
        • Matvienko O.
        • Lewis D.S.
        • Shafer E.
        A college nutrition science course as an intervention to prevent weight gain in female college freshmen.
        J Nutr Educ. 2001; 33: 95-101
        • Levitsky D.A.
        • Halbmaier C.A.
        • Mrdjenovic G.
        The freshman weight gain: a model for the study of the epidemic of obesity.
        Int J Obes. 2004; 28: 1435-1442
        • Racette S.B.
        • Deusinger S.S.
        • Strube M.J.
        • Highstein G.R.
        • Deusinger R.H.
        Weight changes, exercise and dietary patterns during freshman and sophomore years of college.
        J Am Coll Health. 2005; 53: 245-251
        • Hajhosseini L.
        • Holmes T.
        • Mohamadi P.
        • Goudarzi V.
        • McProud L.
        • Hollenbeck C.
        Changes in body weight, body composition and resting metabolic rate in first year university freshmen students.
        J Am Coll Nutr. 2006; 25: 123-127
        • US Department of Health and Human Services
        Youth risk behavior surveillance national college health risk behavior survey, 1995.
        MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 1997; (461-431.)
      2. US Department of Agriculture. MyPyramid. Available at: Accessed October 27, 2005.

        • National Institutes of Health
        Clinical guidelines on the identification, evaluation, and treatment of overweight and obesity in adults: the evidence report.
        Obes Res. 1998; 6: 51S-209S
        • Song W.O.
        • Chun O.K.
        • Obayashi S.
        • Cho S.
        • Chung C.E.
        Is consumption of breakfast associated with body mass index in US adults?.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2005; 105: 1373-1382
        • Barton B.A.
        • Eldridge A.L.
        • Thompson D.
        • et al.
        The relationship of breakfast and cereal consumption to nutrient intake and body mass index: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2005; 105: 1383-1389
        • Chase K.
        • Reicks M.
        • Smith C.
        • Henry H.
        • Reimer K.
        Use of the think-aloud method to identify factors influencing purchase of bread and cereals by low-income African American women and implications for whole-grain education.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2003; 103: 501-504
      3. US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Projections of education statistics to 2013. 2003; Table 11. Available at: Accessed August 24, 2006.

      4. US Census Bureau, Population Division. Available at: Accessed August 24, 2006.