LITTLETON, COLO. — Five months ago, the Wheat Foods Council launched an initiative producing dozens of videos aimed at entertaining and educating viewers about the healthfulness of wheat-based foods. On Sept. 2, the WFC celebrated the millionth total view of its videos.
The video production program was conceived as an alternative to in-person personal trainer events, where the WFC would present and exhibit. Viewers of the videos in recent months have been personal trainers, dietitians and other nutrition and fitness professionals.
“We felt producing these videos and delivering them through our social media channels was the best alternative to continue our educational outreach while in-person activities were unavailable,” said Tim O’Connor, president of the WFC. “Our videos are reaching our target audience in an entertaining and informative way that is highly successful.”
The group’s focus on personal trainers dates back to 2015 when a strategic planning process led to the conclusion that the fitness professionals were a critical audience. The WFC said an estimated 300,000 personal trainers in the United States offer voluminous advice to clients about weight loss and/or weight management, guidance that often has been negative toward wheat foods.
“It was time to address the support for fad diets like low-carb, Paleo, keto and others, coming from personal trainers,” the WFC said.
The group estimated the trainers interact with between 4 million and 6 million clients per week, and the clients, in turn, share what they learned from their trainers with between 32 million and 48 million family and friends each week.
At its virtual summer meeting this year, the WFC shared results of a survey of personal trainers, documenting progress over the last four years toward the objective of educating the target group.
Importantly, 89% of the 2,000 trainers surveyed cited carbohydrates as health and nutritional benefit of wheat foods baked from enriched flour. By contrast, only 10% characterized wheat-based foods the same way in 2015.
Hayden L. Wands, chairman of the WFC and vice president of global procurement for Grupo Bimbo SAB de CV, celebrated the group’s progress.
“Having 89% of trainers — up from just 10% — seeing carbs as healthy and the nutritional benefits of wheat foods is a huge accomplishment,” he said. “We achieved that by having our nutrition and athletic experts provide sound nutrition information at their meetings, webinars and recently via social media videos. We have some of the top experts in the field on our team. Trainers are anxious to learn from them and receive continuing education credits from their presentations.”
In the survey, trainers were asked, “Which of these health and nutritional benefits do you believe are provided by wheat-based, enriched foods like bread, tortillas or pasta? (Select all that apply.)” In addition to carbohydrates, other options were fiber, vitamins or no benefit. Respondents citing vitamins as a benefit rose to 65% in 2020 from 15% in 2015; fiber jumped to 77% from 11%; and the number of respondents saying no benefits fell to 2% in 2020 from 14% in 2015.
The subject matter in the WFC videos span a wide range of topics, including facts about wheat production, enriched flour fad diets, guidance from nutritionists/elite athletes and recipes. The videos may be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok, as well as the WFC’s YouTube channel, website and the group’s center for nutrition and athletics.