Parents of adolescents—pay attention! Do all you can to increase your teen’s fibre consumption as a recent research found that adolescents who don’t get enough fibre have bigger bellies. They also are at in increased risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The researchers Dr Norman Pollock, bone biologist at the Medical College of Georgia and the Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Health Sciences [GHS] University and Dr Samip Parikh an internal medicine resident at GHS Health System found that adolescents eat one-third of the daily recommendation of fibre, which is 28g for girls and 38g for boys.
“The simple message is adolescents need to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains,” Pollock said. “We need to push recommendations to increase fiber intake,” said Dr Pollock.
They found that adolescents who had a low-fibre, tended to have more visceral fat in their abdominal cavity. They also tended to have higher levels of inflammatory factors.
Although it is still unclear to the researchers how fibre protects from unhealthy consequences, they hypothesise that it adds bulk to the stool. This helps expel the digested food sooner, reducing the time it spends in the gastrointestinal tract. Fibre also has the to improve insulin sensitivity, potentially reducing fat desposition. Further, another characteristic of fiber, which they feel helps is that fibre speeds satiety, potentially decreasing total food and caloric consumption. It may also help absorb and eliminate inflammatory factors.
Belly fat and high inflammatory factors are linked to bad consequences such as heart disease and often occur together, although there isn’t a cause and effect relationship between them.
The scientists acknowledge getting adolescents to eat more fiber can be tough, not only because of their penchant for processed foods but because side effects can include intestinal gas, bloating and diarrhea. They are pursuing funding to develop more palatable forms of fiber that could be sprinkled, for example, on the low-fiber foods most adolescents regularly consume.