American Journal of Medicine, internal medicine, medicine, health, healthy lifestyles, cancer, heart disease, drugs

Dietary Fiber Intake and Cardiometabolic Risks among US Adults, NHANES 1999-2010

broc-41-sig-sm72After you read this study, you may resolve to change your diet.

The benefits of dietary fiber on cardiovascular risk reduction have been documented.1234 Specifically, epidemiologic data suggest a protective relationship between dietary fiber and risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including components of the metabolic syndrome,56 and related risks such as cardiovascular inflammation.78 Dietary fiber intake is thought to play a role in cardiometabolic and cardiovascular disease risk reduction by decreasing blood pressure,9 cholesterol levels,1011and levels of biomarkers of inflammation.812 Additionally, fiber intake is associated with an increased sensation of satiety thought to contribute to weight loss,9 and improved insulin sensitivity.1314 Based on large-scale prospective cohort studies and small-scale intervention studies that show reductions in coronary heart disease risk, including lipid reduction associated with dietary and functional fiber intake from oat cereal and bean sources, the Institute of Medicine has established a recommended “adequate intake” level for total fiber intake by age and sex: 38 g per day for men aged 19-50 years, 30 g per day for men older than 50 years, 25 g per day for women aged 19-50 years, and 21 g per day for women older than 50 years.15 To date, recent studies have not fully investigated potential demographic and socioeconomic disparities in dietary fiber intake over time, or the relation between dietary fiber intake and cardiometabolic risk factors in diverse populations. Surveillance data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) can assist in identifying vulnerable groups that may benefit from targeted dietary interventions, and help estimate cardiometabolic risks associated with dietary fiber intake in diverse groups.16

The present study has 3 objectives: to examine secular trends in dietary fiber intake among US adults from 1999 to 2010; to investigate possible sex, age, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in dietary fiber intake trends during this time period; and to examine the association between dietary fiber intake and the prevalence of cardiometabolic risk factors, the metabolic syndrome, inflammation, and obesity in diverse groups of adults in the US, with attention to any racial/ethnic differences in associations between fiber intake and cardiometabolic risks.

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– Joseph S. Alpert, MD, Gary S. Francis, MD

This article originally appeared in the December 2013 issue of The American Journal of Medicine.


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