Dietary Fiber Can Prevent Obesity

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dietary fiber

The Center for Disease Control estimated that two thirds of adults and one fifth of children in the United States are obese. Obesity increases the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers. Diet and levels of exercise have a correlation to the incidence of obesity. Medical research indicates that increasing dietary fiber intake can assist in weight management.

Fiber Fills You Up

More time is required to chew foods which are high in fiber. This sends a signal to your brain that you are no longer hungry, so you will not overeat. High fiber foods have fewer calories per volume and promote satiation or a feeling of being full for a longer time. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are good sources of fiber. The National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine daily recommendations for fiber are:
  • Men: 38 grams for ages 50 and younger, 30 grams for ages 51 and older
  • Women: 25 grams for ages 50 and younger , 21 grams for ages 51 and older
Whole grains, which are a source of insoluble fiber, slow starch absorption in the digestive process and aid in bowel regularity. Soluble fiber, which is found in beans, peas, and apples, slows the absorption of sugar and helps lower total blood cholesterol levels.

Adding Fiber Results in Weight Loss

A new study, which appears in the February 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, evaluated the relationship of cereal, fruit, and vegetable fiber with changes in weight and waist circumferences. The study included 89,432 European participants, ages 20 to 78 years old, who were followed over approximately 6.5 years. It was concluded that for each daily increase of 10 grams of cereal fiber, a participant had a weight change of -77 grams per year and a -0.10 centimeter per year change in waist circumference.

In the November 2003 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there is an article which supports the correlation of dietary fiber intake and weight gain. A 12-year study of 74,091 women, ages 38 to 63 years old, found that women who had the greatest increase in dietary fiber intake gained an average of 1.52 kilograms less than did women who had the smallest increase in dietary fiber intake. Weight gain decreased with the increased intake of whole grains. However, weight gain increased with the increased intake of refined grains.

Balance in Weight Management

There is a balance in weight management. Energy intake needs to be lower than energy expenditure. But intake should never be so low that lean body tissue is sacrificed, hunger increases, the quality of diet declines, and health is compromised. Increasing dietary fiber is a positive strategy in weight management.

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