Fibre has been associated with digestive health for a long time, and is described by the NHS as ‘an important part of a healthy diet’. It plays a vital role in preventing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancers, diabetes, improve digestive health and stopping weight gain.1 Despite this strong association with health, most adults and children do not eat enough of it.
The National Diet and Nutrition Survey 2014 reports that intakes of fibre, fruit and vegetables are below those recommended, with the lowest intakes found in those under 65 years of age in the lowest income quintile.2 Without a universal definition, discussions about fibre can be confusing. Fibre has been defined differently, by different authorities.3,4 In 2015, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recommended a new definition of fibre for the UK.4 For those advising on infant and child nutrition, a dichotomy may be felt between the need to include fibre in the diet and
the advice not to give infants and children the ‘high fibre, low fat’ diet traditionally recommended to adults, for fear of limiting the nutrients and energy needed for growth.3
This article seeks to review the current dietary fibre advice with regards to definition, dietary recommendations, health outcomes and offers some guidance on how to advise parents about including fibre in their child’s diet.
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