NEW YORK, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- An estimated 32 million
Americans are on high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets and, as a result, are
likely getting far less than their daily recommended fiber intake, according
to recent survey findings and an analysis of currently popular diets. Yet
two-thirds of those on such diets think they are getting enough fiber, the
The survey of more than 2,000 adults found that 15 percent said they are
currently on a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet. Because such diets limit
the intake of carbohydrate foods -- which are the main source of dietary fiber
-- those who follow these diets generally obtain less than the current
recommended intake of fiber. Fifteen percent of the current estimated
211,637,000 U.S. adult population is 31,745,550 adults.
"We've known for some time that, on average, Americans get less than half
the recommended intake of dietary fiber," said Joanne Slavin, Ph.D., Professor
of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota. "This survey
and our analysis of diets and fiber intake show the situation is even worse
for people following currently popular, low-carbohydrate diets," she said.
Nutrition experts have long recognized that an adequate intake of dietary
fiber is important in a healthy diet. Last year, for the first time since
1941, the Food and Nutrition Board recommended to the FDA that the Recommended
Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for vitamins and minerals be revised to include a
higher fiber intake. They recommended Americans consume 38 grams of dietary
fiber per day for men and 25 grams per day for women. Current typical fiber
intake levels for the average American range from 16 to 18 grams per day for
men and 12 to 14 grams per day for women.
Diet Survey and Analysis
In the survey, 2,078 adults 18 years and older -- including 940 men and
1,138 women -- were asked if they were following a low-carbohydrate,
high-protein diet and, if so, which one. Of those on these diets, the most
popular named diet was Atkins(R) (35%), followed by South Beach Diet(R) (6%)
and Zone(R) (1%). Other respondents said they were following a high-protein,
low-carbohydrate diet specified by their doctor (12%).
Dr. Slavin determined the fiber content of the diets based on previously
published findings and her own analyses of sample menus provided by the diets'
websites, and calculated how much of the current recommended fiber intake each
diet provides. The three most popular diets fell short in their fiber content
(see fiber chart).
Diet Daily Calorie Grams of Percent of Adequate Intake**
Allowance Fiber* Men (38 g/day) Women (25 g/day)
- Induction 1020 11 29 44
- Weight loss 1300 7 19 29
- Pre-maintenance 1505 13 33 50
maintenance 1680 6 15 23
South Beach Diet(R)
- Phase 1 1045 4 12 18
- Phase 2 1090 8 20 30
- Phase 3 1030 3 8 12
Zone(R) 1600 18 47 72
* Values rounded to the nearest gram; calculations for percent of
adequate daily fiber intake were calculated based on non-rounded values
for grams of fiber
** Values based on the Food and Nutrition Board's new fiber
Despite the fiber deficits of the diets, 67 percent of respondents on the
diets said they believed they were getting enough fiber, while 13 percent said
they weren't and 19 percent weren't sure.
"People on low-carbohydrate diets need to realize these diets fall far
short of current recommendations for fiber intake, and find ways to increase
their fiber consumption," said Dr. Slavin. She said that because it's
difficult to increase fiber intake from foods while on a
carbohydrate-restricted diet, fiber supplements can be especially helpful.
"Fiber supplements, like Benefiber(R), can be easily added to non-carbonated
beverages or a wide variety of foods, without affecting taste or texture, and
can significantly increase total fiber intake." Though most high-protein,
low-carbohydrate diets add foods containing fiber in later phases, often times
dieters are still not meeting the RDA for adequate fiber intake, Dr. Slavin
found. "In addition, many dieters delay adding the carbohydrate foods in
order to lose more weight -- making a fiber supplement even more important."
Dr. Slavin also said that a fiber supplement can be helpful for people on
diets that are not carbohydrate restricted, since they limit food and,
therefore, fiber intake; and generally for the many Americans who get less
than half the recommended level of fiber.
Celebrity Chefs Feature Fiber
Dr. Slavin presented the survey findings and diet analysis as part of a
special event called the "Five Star Feast" held today at the Bryant Park Grill
in New York City and sponsored by Novartis Consumer Health, Inc. Held during
"Fashion Week," the event featured recipes using Benefiber developed by top
personal chefs and caterers of such stars as Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Lisa
Kudrow, Courteney Cox-Arquette, John Travolta and George Clooney, many of whom
also follow low-carbohydrate and high-protein diets.
"The intent of the event is to not only make people aware of how low fiber
intakes are, especially among dieters, but also how easy it is to address the
problem with a supplement like Benefiber, which can be readily incorporated
into even very sophisticated gourmet recipes," said Dr. Slavin.
Several recipes created by the chefs will be available soon on
About Dietary Fiber
Also known as "roughage," dietary fiber is defined as plant material
resistant to digestion in the human gastrointestinal tract. There are two
main types of fiber: insoluble, which accounts for about two-thirds to
three-fourths of the fiber in the diet and is found mostly in wheat bran and
vegetables; and soluble, which accounts for the remainder of fiber in the
diet, has a gummy consistency and is found mostly in fruits, some vegetables,
dried beans, peas and oat products. The FDA currently recommends a daily
allowance of 25 grams of fiber for both men and women. However, the Food and
Nutrition Board's recent recommendations to the FDA call for the following as
an adequate intake of dietary fiber: 38 grams per day for men and 25 grams per
day for women, and other amounts for other age and sex groups. Current
typical fiber intake levels range from 16 to 18 grams per day for men and 12
to 14 grams per day for women.
About the Survey
The diet survey was conducted by Harris Interactive(R) in August, 2003,
via its QuickQuery(SM) online omnibus, interviewing a nationwide sample of
2,078 U.S. adults ages 18 years and over, of whom 291 self-identified that
they were currently on a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Data for the
total sample were weighted to be representative of the total U.S. adult
population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household
income, and race/ethnicity. Although this online sample is not a probability
sample, in theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with
95 percent certainty that the results have a statistical precision of plus or
minus 8.7 percentage points of what they would be if the entire adult
population had been polled with complete accuracy. The survey and diet
analysis were sponsored by Novartis Consumer Health, Inc., makers of
About Novartis Consumer Health, Inc.
Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) is a world leader in pharmaceuticals and consumer
health. In 2002, the Group's businesses achieved sales of USD 20.9 billion
and a net income of USD 4.7 billion. The Group invested approximately USD 2.8
billion in R&D. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies
employ about 77 200 people and operate in over 140 countries around the world.
For further information please consult http://www.novartis.com.
Atkins(R) is a registered trademark of Atkins Nutritionals, Inc.
South Beach Diet(R) is a registered trademark of Market America, Inc.
Zone(R) is a registered trademark of Barry D. Sears
Harris Interactive(R) is a registered trademark of Harris Interactive,
SOURCE Novartis Consumer Health, Inc.