Christopher R. Gustafson https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6894-9456
Devin J. Rose https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1333-6318
Date of this Version
Gustafson, C.R.; Rose, D.J. US Consumer Identification of the Health Benefits of Dietary Fiber and Consideration of Fiber When Making Food Choices. Nutrients 2022, 14, 2341. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14112341
The purposes of this study were to (1) determine beliefs in the health benefits of dietary fiber, an under-consumed nutrient of public health concern, and (2) determine the relationship between beliefs about dietary fiber and consideration of fiber when making food choices. We conducted a nationally representative within-subject randomized online survey of 42,018 US primary shoppers in May–June 2021. Participants selected health benefits they believed were associated with consumption of fiber from a list of six benefits recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one indirect benefit, and one unrelated benefit. Respondents then indicated which nutrients, if any, they considered when making food choices. Respondents selected 1.77 (95% CI = 1.76–1.77) FDA-recognized benefits out of a total six; half (50.6%) of respondents identified zero or one FDA-recognized benefit. The most-cited benefit was “improving bowel movements” (64.4%). Older participants perceived significantly more FDA-recognized fiber benefits. Identification of FDA-recognized benefits increased odds ratios for consideration of fiber during food choice (relative to zero benefits) from 3.0 for one benefit (95% CI = 2.8–3.3) to 14.3 for six benefits (95% CI = 12.4–16.6). Consumers are largely unaware of the many health benefits of dietary fiber, which dramatically decreases the likelihood that they consider this important, under-consumed nutrient during food choice.
Supplementary Table: Multivariate binary logistic regression of consideration of dietary fiber when making food choices (versus not considering fiber) using only FDA-recognized benefits and FDA-recognized benefits + supporting healthy gut bacteria (microbiome).