Preschoolers not getting enough fiber

A Penn State analysis of the diets of a nationally representative sample of U.S. preschoolers, ages 2 to 5, shows that more than three-quarters of the children are not getting enough fiber.

Children who consumed the most fiber also had the most nutrient-rich diets. However, all children in the study ate fewer dairy servings than recommended by the Food Guide Pyramid.

Dr. Sibylle Kranz, assistant professor of nutritional sciences who led the study, says, "There is clinical evidence that children with low fiber intakes are at risk of chronic constipation. However, there are also other reasons to encourage fiber consumption in children. For example, fiber has been shown to lower cardiovascular risk in adults. Children who eat high-fiber foods are more likely to grow up into adults who consume adequate fiber."

The study is detailed in the February issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in a paper, Dietary Fiber Intake by American Preschoolers is Associated with More Nutrient-Dense Diets. The authors are Kranz; Diane C. Mitchell, Penn State Diet Assessment Center coordinator; Anna Maria Siega-Riz, associate professor of maternal and child health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and Dr. Helen Smiciklas-Wright, Penn State professor of nutritional sciences.

In the study, dietary consumption estimates were based on 2-day averages of 5,437 children whose parents provided information in the 1994-1996 and 1998 Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The researchers conducted separate analyses on the 2 and 3 years olds and the 4 and 5 year olds and compared them.

The younger children had, on average, a higher fiber intake than the older children. The two and three year olds, whose fiber intake placed them in the top quarter of the sample, met the new National Academy of Sciences Dietary Reference Intake level. These guidelines propose that Americans of all

Contact: Barbara Hale
Penn State

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