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 survey found. 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) Atkins(R) - Induction 1020 11 29 44 - Weight loss 1300 7 19 29 - Pre-maintenance 1505 13 33 50 - Lifetime 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 recommendations 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 www.Benefiber.com. 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 Benefiber. 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, Inc.
SOURCE Novartis Consumer Health, Inc.