Date of Award

Winter 2014

Project Type


Program or Major

Nutritional Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Joanne Curran-Celentano

Second Advisor

Catherine A Violette

Third Advisor

Maggie L Dylewski


The average adult in America eats less than one serving of the recommended three serving minimum of whole grains each day. Consumption of whole grains in older adults is particularly low; consumption in college students is even lower. This pilot study investigated the effectiveness of a three-session nutrition education program, entitled "Is It Whole Grain?" to improve older adults knowledge, identification and consumption of whole grains. Based on the analysis of pre- and post- intervention whole grain questionnaire responses from 157 older adults, aged 60 or older, residing in New Hampshire and Iowa, significant improvements in older adults' knowledge and intake frequency of whole grains were shown. Participants' mean pre- to post- whole grain knowledge scores increased significantly from 15.46 ± 0.38 to 21.96 ± 0.31 (p < 0.001). Participants' median frequency of whole grains consumed increased significantly from eight to ten times a week (p=0.009). The whole grain knowledge and consumption of 256 undergraduate college students from the University of New Hampshire were assessed using a similar pre-intervention whole grain survey as that of the older adults. The college students' whole grain knowledge and consumption levels were statistically different to that of the pre-intervention older adults, yet effect sizes were small. College students' median knowledge scores were slightly higher than that of the older adults, 18.0 versus 16.0 out of 31.0 respectively. Yet college students' intake was lower, the median number of times whole grains were consumed in a week was 6.0 compared to 8.0 in that of the older adults. The overall low whole grain knowledge and intake of the younger population suggest that they would benefit from whole grain education similar in content to that for the older adults, with particular emphasis on the grain content of foods, taste testing and the practical application of concepts in the discernment of whole grain foods. Validation of a whole grain assessment tool appropriate for older adults is needed to further advance the findings generated from this pilot study. Input and feedback from college students, such as through focus group interviews, would guide the development of whole grain education tailored to their interests and needs.