Howarth NC, Saltzman E, Roberts SB
The influence of dietary fiber on energy regulation remains controversial. This review summarizes published studies on the effects of dietary fiber on hunger, satiety, energy intake, and body composition in healthy individuals. Under conditions of fixed energy intake, the majority of studies indicate that an increase in either soluble or insoluble fiber intake increases postmeal satiety and decreases subsequent hunger. When energy intake is ad libitum, mean values for published studies indicate that consumption of an additional 14 g/day fiber for more than 2 days is associated with a 10% decrease in energy intake and body weight loss of 1.9 kg over 3.8 months. Furthermore, obese individuals may exhibit a greater suppression of energy intake and body weight loss (mean energy intake in all studies was reduced to 82% by higher fiber intake in overweight/obese people versus 94% in lean people; body weight loss was 2.4 kg versus 0.8 kg). These amounts are very similar to the mean changes in energy intake and body weight changes observed when dietary fat content is lowered from 38% to 24% of energy intake in controlled studies of non obese and obese subjects. The observed changes in energy intake and body weight occur both when the fiber is from naturally high-fiber foods and when it is from a fiber supplement. In view of the fact that mean dietary fiber intake in the United States is currently only 15 g/day (i.e., approximately half the American Heart Association recommendation of 25-30 g/day), efforts to increase dietary fiber in individuals consuming less than 25 g/day may help to decrease the currently high national prevalence of obesity.