Dietary fibers prevent obesity through reduction of hunger and prolongation of satiety. A number of mechanical and endocrine signals from gastrointestinal tract are stimulated by fibers and their fermentation products, reach regions of brain involved in the regulation of appetite, and ultimately reduce food intake. Gastric distention, delayed gastric emptying, prevention of hypoglycemic, increased amounts of unabsorbed nutrients reaching to the ileum, and stimulation of enteroendocrine cells for secretion of cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), and peptide YY are among mechanisms of fibers in decreasing hunger and prolongation of satiety. Fermentation of fibers produces short-chain fatty acids that also stimulates enteroendocrine cells to secrete GLP-1 and PYY. Randomized controlled trials have shown reductions in energy intake and body weight along with increased satiation and reduced hunger following consumption of fibers. Prospective cohort studies have confirmed these results but the extent of weight loss in some studies has been small. Controversies exist between studies particularly for the effect of fibers on the gastrointestinal hormones, subsequent food intake, and the resultant weight loss. More studies are needed before a clear conclusion can be drawn especially for the effect of fibers on appetite-related hormones and weight loss.
Keywords: Dietary fiber; appetite; fullness; hunger; satiety; short-chain fatty acids.