It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that the public should consume adequate amounts of dietary fiber from a variety of plant foods. Populations that consume more dietary fiber have less chronic disease. In addition, intake of dietary fiber has beneficial effects on risk factors for developing several chronic diseases. Dietary Reference Intakes recommend consumption of 14 g dietary fiber per 1,000 kcal, or 25 g for adult women and 38 g for adult men, based on epidemiologic studies showing protection against cardiovascular disease. Appropriate kinds and amounts of dietary fiber for children, the critically ill, and the very old are unknown. The Dietary Reference Intakes for fiber are based on recommended energy intake, not clinical fiber studies. Usual intake of dietary fiber in the United States is only 15 g/day. Although solubility of fiber was thought to determine physiological effect, more recent studies suggest other properties of fiber, perhaps fermentability or viscosity are important parameters. High-fiber diets provide bulk, are more satiating, and have been linked to lower body weights. Evidence that fiber decreases cancer is mixed and further research is needed. Healthy children and adults can achieve adequate dietary fiber intakes by increasing variety in daily food patterns. Dietary messages to increase consumption of high-fiber foods such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables should be broadly supported by food and nutrition professionals. Consumers are also turning to fiber supplements and bulk laxatives as additional fiber sources. Few fiber supplements have been studied for physiological effectiveness, so the best advice is to consume fiber in foods. Look for physiological studies of effectiveness before selecting functional fibers in dietetics practice.