Increase fiber, reduce fat in adolescents

June 21, 2012

Increased intake of dietary fiber is associated with less visceral fat and lower levels of inflammatory markers in adolescents, a new study found. Getting adolescents to eat more fiber might also lower the long-term risks associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Increased intake of dietary fiber is associated with less visceral fat and lower levels of inflammatory markers in adolescents, a new study found.

Obesity research has shown that increased adiposity is associated with greater systemic inflammation, and it has been suggested that dietary fiber intake may protect against obesity-related inflammation. Adolescents in the United States tend to consume less than one-half the recommended amount of dietary fiber.

Researchers investigated the relationship between dietary fiber consumption (determined by 4-7 dietician-conducted 24-hour recalls) with inflammatory-related biomarkers (leptin, adiponectin, resistin, C-reactive protein, and fibrinogen) and measures of total and central adiposity in 559 adolescents aged 14 to 18 years.

The researchers found that after adjustment for age, race, energy intake, and other potential confounding factors, greater dietary fiber intake was associated with less visceral adipose tissue, lower levels of C-reactive protein and fibrinogen, and higher levels of adiponectin in boys and in girls. In boys but not girls, higher dietary fiber intake was also associated with less total fat mass and lower serum leptin levels.

One possible explanation for these findings is that dietary fiber could improve insulin sensitivity. Other possible factors are the effects of fiber on satiety, gastric emptying, and gastrointestinal hormones, researchers suggest.

Getting adolescents to eat more fiber might also lower the long-term risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes, they said.

Go back to the current issue of the eConsult.