Dietary Fiber May Help Prevent Body Weight, Waist Circumference Gain

Laurie Barclay, MD

January 06, 2010

January 6, 2010 — Dietary fiber may help prevent gain in body weight and waist circumference, according to the results of a prospective cohort study reported online in the December 16, 2009, issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"Dietary fiber may play a role in obesity prevention," write Huaidong Du, from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven, the Netherlands, and colleagues. "Until now, the role that fiber from different sources plays in weight change had rarely been studied."

The goal of this study was to evaluate the relationship of total dietary fiber, cereal fiber, and fruit and vegetable fiber with changes in weight and waist circumference. The study cohort consisted of 89,432 European participants, aged 20 to 78 years, without cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes at baseline. Validated, country-specific, food-frequency questionnaires were used to obtain dietary information. Average duration of follow-up was 6.5 years. In each center studied, multiple linear regression analysis was performed, and estimates were combined with random-effect meta-analyses, after adjustment for follow-up duration; other dietary variables; and baseline anthropometric, demographic, and lifestyle factors.

There was an inverse association of total fiber intake with subsequent change in weight and in waist circumference. For each 10-g/day increase in total fiber intake, the pooled estimate was –39 g/year (95% confidence interval [CI], –71 to –7 g/year) for weight change and –0.08 cm/year (95% CI, –0.11 to –0.05 cm/year) for waist circumference change.

For each 10-g/day increase in fiber intake from cereals, there was a weight change of –77 g/year (95% CI, –127 to –26 g/year) and change in waist circumference of –0.10 cm/year (95% CI, –0.18 to –0.02 cm/year). Fruit and vegetable fiber was not associated with weight change. However, the association of fruit and vegetable fiber intake with change in waist circumference was similar to that seen for intake of total dietary fiber and cereal fiber.

Limitations of this study include difference in methodologies used to collect anthropometric data at follow-up because weight and waist circumference measurements at follow-up were self-reported instead of measured at 4 of 6 study centers. In addition, dietary information was collected only once at baseline, which precluded investigating the concurrent association between changes in fiber intake and changes in weight and waist circumference.

"Our finding may support a beneficial role of higher intake of dietary fiber, especially cereal fiber, in prevention of body-weight and waist circumference gain," the study authors write. "Although the observed effect was rather small in our study when judged on the individual level, the effect of fiber on weight change observed in our study may be of public health relevance."

The DiOGenes (Diet, Obesity, and Genes) project, which was supported by the European Community, supported this study. The study authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Am J Clin Nutr. Published online December 16, 2009. Abstract

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