Objective. The consumption of dietary fiber in childhood is associated with important health benefits, especially with respect to promoting normal laxation. Dietary fiber also may help reduce the future risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and adultonset diabetes. At present, there are few specific guidelines for dietary fiber intake in childhood. Our goals were to review the benefits and risks of dietary fiber in childhood and to propose a safe and effective quantitative recommendation for the US pediatric population.

Method. Current intake of dietary fiber in childhood was reviewed, including data from the US Department of Agriculture Nationwide Food Consumption (1987-1988) and National Health and Nutrition Examination II (1976-1980) Survey. Current intake was compared with existing fiber recommendations, including the 0.5-g/kg guideline proposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. Recommended fiber intake was reviewed with respect to levels required for specific health benefits, as well as levels that may result in adverse health effects.

Results and Conclusions. A new recommendation for dietary fiber intake was developed, based on the age of the child, health benefits, and safety concerns. We recommended that children older than 2 years of age consume a minimal amount of dietary fiber equivalent to age plus 5 g/d. A safe range of dietary fiber intake for children is suggested to be between age plus 5 and age plus 10 g/d. This range of dietary fiber intake is thought to be safe even if intake of some vitamins and minerals is marginal, should provide enough fiber for normal laxation, and may help prevent future chronic disease.

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