Fiber Intake and Insulin Resistance in 6374 Adults: The Role of Abdominal Obesity

Nutrients. 2018 Feb 20;10(2):237. doi: 10.3390/nu10020237.


A cross-sectional design was used to evaluate the relationship between fiber intake and insulin resistance, indexed using HOMA (homeostatic model assessment), in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES) sample of 6374 U.S. adults. Another purpose was to test the influence of covariates on the association. A third aim was to compare HOMA levels between two groups based on the recommended intake of 14 grams of fiber per 1000 kilocalories (kcal). Fiber intake was measured using a 24-hour recall. With demographic variables controlled, results showed that HOMA differed across High, Moderate, and Low fiber categories (F = 5.4, p = 0.0072). Adjusting for the demographic variables, the possible misreporting of energy intake, smoking, and physical activity strengthened the relationship (F = 8.0, p = 0.0009), which remained significant after adjusting for body fat (F = 7.0, p = 0.0019) and body mass index (BMI) (F = 4.9, p = 0.0108), with the other covariates. However, the fiber-HOMA relationship was eliminated after adjusting for waist circumference (F = 2.3, p = 0.1050). Dividing participants based on the recommended 14-gram standard resulted in meaningful HOMA differences (F = 16.4, p = 0.0002), and the association was not eliminated after controlling for waist circumference. Apparently, adults with high fiber consumption have less insulin resistance than their counterparts. However, much of the association is due to differences in waist circumference, unless the recommended intake of fiber is attained.

Keywords: body fat; complex carbohydrate; diabetes; homeostatic model assessment; obesity; waist circumference.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / diagnosis*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Risk Factors
  • United States
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Insulin