Dietary fiber does not displace energy but is associated with decreased serum cholesterol concentrations in healthy children

Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar;91(3):651-61. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28461. Epub 2010 Jan 13.


Background: Dietary fiber has health benefits, but fiber recommendations for children are controversial because fiber may displace energy.

Objective: The objective was to longitudinally evaluate dietary fiber intake in children and to study associations between growth variables, serum cholesterol concentrations, and intakes of fiber, energy, and nutrients.

Design: Altogether, 543 children from a prospective randomized atherosclerosis prevention trial (the Special Turku Coronary Risk factor Intervention Project; STRIP) participated in this study between the ages of 8 mo and 9 y. The intervention children (n = 264) were counseled to replace part of saturated fat with unsaturated fat. Nutrient intakes, weight, height, and serum total, HDL-, and LDL-cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations were analyzed. Children were divided into 3 groups according to mean dietary fiber intake in foods: low (lowest 10%), high (highest 10%), and average (middle 80%) fiber intakes.

Results: Fiber intake associated positively with energy intake and inversely with fat intake. Children with a high fiber intake received more vitamins and minerals than did children in other groups. In longitudinal growth analyses, weights and heights were similar in all 3 fiber intake groups, and fiber intake (g/d) associated positively with weight gain between 8 mo and 2 y. Serum cholesterol concentrations decreased with increasing fiber intakes. Children in the intervention group had a higher fiber intake than did the control children during the entire follow-up period.

Conclusion: Fiber intake did not displace energy or disturb growth between 13 mo and 9 y of age. Serum cholesterol values correlated inversely with fiber intake, which indicated that part of the cholesterol-lowering intervention effect in the STRIP project may have been explained by dietary fiber.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Diet Records
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fiber / pharmacology
  • Energy Intake*
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Weight Gain*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Fatty Acids
  • Micronutrients
  • Cholesterol