Food and Fiber Summit – Addressing the Fiber Gap

On January 28 2014, various researchers, educators, and communications experts convened at the Food & Fiber Summit in Washington, DC. The purpose of the summit was to identify barriers to achieving the daily fiber intake recommendations and to determine ways in which healthcare providers can encourage adequate consumption.

The Institutes of Medicine (IOM) have published daily intake recommendations for fiber based on age and gender. Generally, children should consume 19-25 grams of fiber daily. For adults, fiber intake should be between 21-26 grams and 30-38 grams per day for women and men, respectively. According to the 2009-2020 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the mean daily fiber intake for Americans is only 16.2 grams. The Summit panelists hypothesized that confusion regarding front-of-pack labeling and the growing popularity of gluten-free, wheat-free, and grain-free diets are the major barriers to meeting fiber recommendations.

Together, the panelist and attendees identified three key strategies for healthcare providers to close the fiber gap. These key strategies include:

  1. Use short, specific, and simple recommendations to address confusion and misperceptions about fiber
  2. Relay messages that lead with food and flavor, not fiber, to address negative taste perceptions
  3. Communicate fiber’s many benefits to address the belief that fiber is only for digestive health

To learn more, access the Food & Fiber Summit report here.