Posted February 5, 2019
The Wheat Foods Council (WFC) continued its battle on fad diets when it met in mid-January in New Orleans, Louisiana. Ron Suppes, Kansas Wheat Commissioner; Cindy Falk, nutrition educator; Marsha Boswell, director of communications; and Jordan Hildebrand, program assistant represented Kansas Wheat in the industry-wide discussion on improving the image of wheat foods.
Wheat has become an easy punching bag for fad diets and those who profit from them, but the WFC has adopted a strategic plan to help inform consumers about the merits of wheat foods by influencing the influencers and telling the story of wheat. WFC’s initiatives focus on building and maintaining relationships with dietitians and personal trainers, as well as improving the images of enriched wheat products and modern breeding and farming practices.
“Research conducted by the Wheat Foods Council found that many personal trainers had little to no nutrition education, but were actively giving out dietary advice on a daily basis,” said Hildebrand. “The Wheat Foods Council has found that this is information those professionals desperately want, but we are among the first to actively reach out and provide it. This is an amazing opportunity for the wheat industry to help shape the discussion surrounding our product with these influencers.”
The WFC works with recognizable names in the physical training world, such as Nancy Clark, an internationally-recognized registered dietitian who specializes in nutrition exercise, Dr. Glenn Gaesser is a professor of exercise and wellness at Arizona State University and Dr. Travis Thomas is an associate professor of clinical and sports nutrition at the University of Kentucky.
A new venture for the WFC is the Center for Nutrition and Athletics, a website and app designed by WFC to clear misconceptions about nutrition’s role in a healthy, active lifestyle. Experts have also given several record-breaking informative webinars on behalf of WFC to a personal training audience. The WFC also sponsored the Enrich Your Life 5K hosted in Manhattan, Kansas alongside the Little Apple Marathon.
The Council is also maintaining contact with a number of registered dietitians they have reached through previous presence at trade shows and other events. The Kernels quarterly magazine remains a popular enriching source for dietitians on the latest information about wheat in a healthy, balanced diet. WFC has also started to sponsor courses at the Culinary Institute of America at Copia that draw chefs from major national and regional restaurant chains (including Wendy’s, Sonic, McAlister’s Deli, Kentucky Fried Chicken and more) that are making menu decisions for millions of consumers.
Wheat continues to pop up in the news both in terms of production and nutrition. The WFC has continued to monitor mentions of wheat in the media. According to their findings, the mentions of gluten-free diets have fallen nearly 20 percent from 2015 to 2018. On the other hand, mentions of whole grains have risen 16 percent in the same three years. These findings suggest that the gluten-free diet that has started the down-hill slide that most fad diets see. In gathering this data the WFC was also able to ascertain that negative media mentions of wheat have decreased by 4 percent since 2015 while neutral coverage of the original ancient grain has grown by 5 percent.
“The Wheat Foods Council members support an ongoing pro-active force of pro-wheat messaging. We have a good story to tell and wheat farmers, millers, bakers, researchers, food professionals and others in the industry have to keep telling it,” Hildebrand said. “Science is in our favor.”
Kansas wheat producers have had an active role in the Wheat Food Council since its formation in 1972. The council is an industry-wide partnership dedicated to increasing wheat and other grain foods consumption through nutrition information, education, research and promotional programs. The council is supported voluntarily by wheat producers, millers, and related industries.