What do we know about dietary fiber intake in children and health? The effects of fiber intake on constipation, obesity, and diabetes in children.Adv Nutr 2012; 3(1):47-53AN
The effect of dietary fiber intake on chronic diseases has been explored in adults but is largely unknown in children. This paper summarizes the currently existing evidence on the implications of dietary fiber intake on constipation, obesity, and diabetes in children. Current intake studies suggest that all efforts to increase children's dietary fiber consumption should be encouraged. Available data, predominantly from adult studies, indicate significantly lower risks for obesity, diabetes, and constipation could be expected with higher dietary fiber consumption. However, there is a lack of data from clinical studies in children of various ages consuming different levels of dietary fiber to support such assumptions. The existing fiber recommendations for children are conflicting, a surprising situation, because the health benefits associated with higher dietary fiber intake are well established in adults. Data providing conclusive evidence to either support or refute some, if not all, of the current pediatric fiber intake recommendations are lacking. The opportunity to improve children's health should be a priority, because it also relates to their health later in life. The known health benefits of dietary fiber intake, as summarized in this paper, call for increased awareness of the need to examine the potential benefits to children's health through increased dietary fiber.