Although scientists have previously determined the recommended daily amounts of certain nutrients, like calcium and vitamin D, they have yet to determine the appropriate numbers for some, such as fiber.
Casey Weber, doctoral student in human nutrition from Mound City and researcher at Kansas State University, is hoping to better the understanding of a child’s recommended daily allowance of fiber. He recently finished his first of two studies observing children’s dietary fiber.
“Fiber essentially is anything that is not digested or provides a functional benefit, but there’s no easy way to classify what that fiber is,” Weber explained. “While findings exist for adults, there isn’t a lot of information about children and the effects of their fiber intake.”
The way a person’s body ferments fiber after it is taken in, whether it be a child or adult, is extremely important. Higher levels of fermentation could mean short-chain fatty acid production, possibly preventing colon cancer, according to Weber. These products of fermentation also supply a source of fuel for colonocytes and beneficial effects in regards to blood lipids (linked to cardiovascular disease).
Children, starting age 1, have a dietary reference intake (DRI) – which tells parents how much of a particular nutrient their kids should eat. Weber said that the intake amount for fiber is an adequate intake amount (AI) because there is not enough existing information about fiber intake to inform people of a specific recommended daily allowance (RDA).
Weber believes there has not been enough research with appropriate context to support the listed daily fiber adequate intake amount. For example, children may have an daily allowance of 19 grams of fiber, but there is little research to support that amount. Fortunately, there has been improvements in recent technology with new ways of measuring variables that could not be measured in populations of young children in the past.