March 20, 2002
America's Fiber Deficit: Most
Americans Only Getting Half The Recommended Amount of Fiber
America is facing a new kind of deficit -- this one is health-related. The
American Dietetic Association (ADA) recently announced that most Americans
are only getting about half, or 14-15 grams, of the 25-35 grams of dietary
fiber they need each day(1).
Dr. Geoffrey G. Ross, former medical advisor to the U.K. Department of
Health and currently Director, Medical Affairs to Novartis Consumer Health,
says that's bad news for Americans, as dietary fiber has numerous benefits
for health maintenance.
"Clinical research has demonstrated that adequate fiber can contribute to a
number of health benefits, including maintaining regularity," Dr. Ross
explains. "Dietary fiber is found primarily in minimally processed fruits,
vegetables, and whole grains. To get the daily recommended dosages of fiber,
consumers should eat substantial portions of these foods every day. The
failure of most Americans to do so has caused a fiber deficit in this
Dr. Ross notes that the culprits for this deficit include Americans' active
lifestyles, love of unhealthy, highly processed foods and lack of awareness
about fiber and its importance to health.
"American lifestyles are more fast-paced and on-the-go than ever, leaving
some people little time to eat the recommended portions of these foods,"
says Dr. Ross. "Others can't or simply don't enjoy eating large portions of
these foods everyday."
Survey Says: Americans Want Easy Solution
A recent survey reveals that most Americans know about fiber's benefits, and
they know they probably don't get enough fiber in their daily diets.
However, they also don't want to have to eat large portions of the right
foods to get enough fiber.
Of 1,000 American surveyed, 74% said either they don't get enough fiber
daily or that they don't know if they get enough fiber. Almost all
respondents, 95%, don't know how much fiber they get, although 82% were
aware of the healthy benefits of adequate fiber intake.
And while the majority (90%) of those surveyed were able to name good
sources of fiber, only about a third (34%) were willing to eat enough foods
such as whole grain bread to reach the daily recommended amount of fiber.
"The survey indicates that Americans know they need more fiber in their
diets, but they aren't willing to eat the foods necessary to get that
fiber," Dr. Ross said. "They are looking for a simpler solution to get the
fiber they need."
Fiber by the Numbers
The chart below illustrates the kinds of foods that offer dietary fiber and
the quantities of dietary fiber each delivers per serving(3):
Food Serving Size Fiber
Asparagus 1 cup 3 grams
Green beans (cooked) 1 cup 4 grams
Broccoli 1 cup 5 grams
Carrots 1 cup 5 grams
Corn (cooked) 1 medium 4 grams
Romaine lettuce 1 cup 0 grams
Spinach 1 cup 1 gram
Tomato 1 cup 2 grams
Apple 1 medium 2.5 grams
Banana 1 medium 2 grams
Peach 1 medium 1 grams
Strawberries 1 cup 4 grams
Watermelon 1 slice 2 grams
100% whole wheat bread 1 slice 2 grams
Cheerios (General Mills) 1 cup 2 grams
Dr. Ross explains that some consumers who find it difficult to eat large
portions of fiber-rich foods take a natural fiber supplement to help them
reach their daily fiber goals. The problem with these products, he explains,
is that many, like Metamucil(R) and Citrucel(R) (4), taste gritty and can
thicken or gel when mixed with water, making them difficult to swallow.