Little is known about the potential health economic impact of increasing the proportion of total grains consumed as whole grains to align with Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommendations. Health economic analysis estimating difference in costs developed using (1) relative risk (RR) estimates between whole grains consumption and outcomes of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and a selected component (coronary heart disease, CHD); (2) estimates of total and whole grains consumption among US adults; and (3) annual direct and indirect medical costs associated with CVD. Using reported RR estimates and assuming a linear relationship, risk reductions per serving of whole grains were calculated and cost savings were estimated from proportional reductions by health outcome. With a 4% reduction in CVD incidence per serving and a daily increase of 2.24 oz-eq of whole grains, one-year direct medical cost savings were estimated at US$21.9 billion (B) (range, US$5.5B to US$38.4B). With this same increase in whole grains and a 5% reduction in CHD incidence per serving, one-year direct medical cost savings were estimated at US$14.0B (US$8.4B to US$22.4B). A modest increase in whole grains of 0.25 oz-eq per day was associated with one-year CVD-related savings of $2.4B (US$0.6B to US$4.3B) and CHD-related savings of US$1.6B (US$0.9B to US$2.5B). Increasing whole grains consumption among US adults to align more closely with DGA recommendations has the potential for substantial healthcare cost savings.
Keywords: cardiovascular disease; costs and cost analysis; nutrition economics; public health; whole grains.