Lack of fiber in Americans' diet caused by negative perception, Mintel finds

CHICAGO Recent Mintel research released Thursday found that fiber is noticeably absent from the typical American's diet. One-in-3 respondents to a recent survey considered their diet to be healthy, but only 1-in-5 reported actively looking for and buying products with added health claims. Based on these results, only a minority of adults are likely to be interested in fiber-enhanced products with digestive claims.

While 30% of consumers say they make it a point to eat naturally fiber-rich foods, studies show most Americans are failing to meet their recommended daily fiber intake. This may be explained by the 27% of respondents who think food with added fiber usually has an unpleasant taste.

"Many people have negative perceptions about the taste of fiber," stated Molly Heyl-Rushmer, senior health-and-wellness analyst at Mintel. "The taste deters them from eating a fiber-added product that has numerous health benefits."

As many as 25% of respondents think fiber only is necessary for those who suffer from irregularity or other digestive problems, with men being more likely than women to hold this belief. And 30% of men (compared with 23% of women) also believe supplements are just as effective as fiber-enriched foods.

Despite the fact that research shows that a lack of fiber is linked to various cancers, heart disease and diabetes, 22% of consumers don't know enough about fiber to know if it is important to their health. Furthermore, 37% believe they can get enough fiber from regular foods, so supplements and food with added fiber are unnecessary.

"Consumers are more likely to report limiting sugar, fat, sodium, and calorie intake than they are to eat naturally fiber-rich foods," Heyl-Rushmer noted. "Adults don't fully understand the link between fiber and health."

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