Ireland Loves White Bread

Pictured at the launch of Brennans Bread survey on the consumption of white bread was Dr Mary McCreery, Consultant Clinical Nutritionist and Dietician at the Blackrock Clinic and Allie Madden (5) and Ava O’Mahony (4).

Ireland loves white bread but Irish people are still misinformed - a new survey by Brennans Bread reveals. 

Brennans Bread has conducted a survey with over 600 people nationwide to understand their views and opinions about the consumption of white bread. The research reveals that over half the people surveyed still believe that white bread is bad for you; that it makes you fat and causes bloating. Despite on-going scientific research findings which confirm that white bread is a low-fat food and does not cause bloating, that it contains many beneficial ingredients and contributes to our daily requirements of vitamins, minerals and Fibre.


Love white bread, but feel too guilty to eat it

Brennans survey has revealed that 82% of Irish people enjoy the taste of white bread with a fifth of all people questioned saying they ‘love it’. But over a third of people surveyed said they don’t eat it because they think it is bad for them and a quarter of people revealed that they don’t eat it because they think white bread is ‘too fattening’, with a further 21% stating that it makes them feel bloated.

Contrary to these widespread beliefs, Brennans Bread supports the ‘Analysis of Bread Consumption in Irish Adults and Children conducted by IUNA’ (Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance) which shows that white bread is in fact good for you as it contains many positive benefits and is the lowest contributor of fat of any food group in the Irish diet.

Dr Mary McCreery, Consultant Clinical Nutritionist and Dietician at Blackrock Clinic supports this by saying “In addition to all of the positive nutrients that white bread provides, it is one of the lowest fat products that people can consume, contributing only 1% of their total fat intake”. A recent review by the British Nutrition Foundation concluded that there is no scientific evidence that white bread, whether produced by modern or traditional methods, causes bloating or gastrointestinal discomfort.


Irish people surprisingly un-informed about nutrition

Many Irish consumers are poorly informed about their dietary requirements as just over a quarter of people questioned are aware of the fat content in foods, and just 11% are confident that they are informed about their daily requirement of carbohydrates. Alarmingly, only 36% of Irish people consider themselves knowledgeable of the food pyramid and its suggested daily intake of foods.

Nutritional benefits seem to be misunderstood too as only a third of people surveyed recognised white bread as a source of Fibre and only 12% believe that white bread contains Iron and Calcium. In fact, white bread provides 9% of Fibre to the diets of adults, and 18% of Fibre to the diets of Irish children.

According to the IUNA findings, Irish people get as much Iron from white bread as they do from meat and fish dishes. Providing 11% of Iron in Irish diets, white bread contributes the same amount of Iron as meat and fish (10%) as well as 12% of Calcium in the Irish diet – the second highest contributor after dairy foods. Consumers may also be surprised to discover white bread has no artificial colours or added sugar – a major myth believed by more than 36% of those surveyed.

Reviewing the survey results, Dr Mary McCreery, Consultant Dietician at Blackrock Clinic said, “I was quite surprised from the survey results to see that many Irish people are not aware of their recommended dietary requirements. At least 55% of our total energy intake should be based on carbohydrate foods and currently the Irish diet contains less than 45%, so as a nation we really need to increase our carbohydrate intake. There is also a large misconception amongst the public that white bread is fattening, but white bread is a low-fat, high carbohydrate nutritious food that can and should be included in the daily diet. We get the same amount of energy in our diets from white bread as we do from fruit and vegetables”.


A nation of white or brown

Regardless of the concerns over white bread, more people in Ireland eat white bread over brown bread. 40% of people surveyed stated that they eat white sliced bread and only 23% revealed that they eat brown sliced bread most regularly. Only a third of people who choose brown bread over white do so because they prefer the taste. Alternative breads such as bagels, baguettes and wraps fared poorly with between 5% and 7% of people surveyed respectively claiming that they eat them regularly.


This research was conducted by TradeWins on behalf of Brennans Bread. 600 adults in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford were surveyed in July 2012.

  1. British Nutrition Foundation
  2. Analysis of the North South Irish Food Consumption Survey and the National Children’s Food Survey. Report on the pattern of white and wholemeal bread consumption in Irish Adults and children. Irish Universities Nutrition Alliance.

About Dr. Mary McCreery
Ph.D. Dip Nutr & Diet; Dip Counselling; MINDI.
Dr Mary McCreery is a Consultant Clinical Nutritionist and Dietician at the Blackrock Clinic with extensive experience in Dietetics and Nutrition in both adults and adolescents. She is Ireland’s leading Dietetic Specialist in Eating Disorders. She has a number of published papers and is a leading authority on Nutrition in the media. She is a member of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute and is a qualified Counsellor. She completed her PhD in Trinity College Dublin in 1993 and then returned to Trinity in 2005 to achieve a First Class Honours in her training in Counselling and Psychotherapy.