Fiber Inversely Linked to Metabolic Syndrome in Children, Says Study

Researchers say that adding fiber to the diet may be more important than restricting saturated fats and cholesterol.

New research suggests that a diet high in fiber may be more effective than saturated fat and cholesterol restriction in reducing metabolic syndrome risk. Published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, the research study focused on dietary habits of 2128 adolescents as reported in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999–2002.

An estimated 138 subjects (6.4%) were reported as having three or more signs of metabolic syndrome. When researchers compared these children to those with fewer or no signs of metabolic syndrome, cholesterol and saturated fat appeared to have no influence. A significant association, however, was found in fiber.

When researchers compared subjects in the highest quartile of fiber intake to those in the lowest quartile, subjects consuming the most fiber demonstrated a threefold reduced-risk of metabolic syndrome (3.1% versus 9.2%).

The association of a high fiber intake with a significantly lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome highlights the importance of a dietary pattern that includes fiber-rich plant-based foods, and the limitation of defining a heart-healthy diet based solely on a low total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol intake,” wrote the researchers.

More research on the exact mechanisms behind fiber and fiber-containing foods as they relate to cardiovascular risks is warranted.