Dietary fiber intake and its association with indicators of adiposity and serum biomarkers in European adolescents: the HELENA study

Eur J Nutr. 2015 Aug;54(5):771-82. doi: 10.1007/s00394-014-0756-2. Epub 2014 Aug 17.


Purpose: To evaluate total, energy-adjusted dietary fiber (DF), water-soluble fiber (WSF), and water-insoluble fiber (WIF) intakes in European adolescents and to investigate their association with indicators of adiposity and serum biomarkers.

Methods: This study, conducted from 2006 to 2007, included 1804 adolescents aged 12.5-17.5 years (47% males) from eight European cities completing two non-consecutive computerized 24-h dietary recalls. GLM multivariate analysis was used to investigate associations.

Results: Mean DF intake (20 g/day) of the sample met the European Food Safety Authority recommendation, but was below those of the World Health Organization and of the Institute of Medicine. Total DF, WSF and WIF intakes were higher in males (P < 0.001), but following energy-adjustments significantly higher intakes were observed among females (P < 0.001). Bread and cereals contributed most to total DF, WSF and WIF intakes, followed by potatoes and grains, energy-dense but low-nutritious foods, fruits and vegetables. Moreover, energy-adjusted WSF and WIF were positively associated with body fat percentage (BF%), waist to height ratio and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, while energy-adjusted WSF was inversely associated with serum fasting glucose (β = -0. 010, P = 0.020).

Conclusion: Total DF intakes are rather low in European adolescents. An inverse association with serum fasting glucose might indicate a possible beneficial role of DF in preventing insulin resistance and its concomitant diseases, even though DF intakes were positively associated with adolescents' BF%. Therefore, further longitudinal studies should elaborate on these potential beneficial effects of DF intake in the prevention of obesity and related chronic diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Child
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Leptin / blood
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Vegetables
  • Waist-Hip Ratio
  • White People*


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Triglycerides
  • C-Reactive Protein