Does your teen love hamburgers? You might want to suggest he try garden burgers instead. According to a new study* published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, teens who eat a low-fiber diet are at increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.
Researchers looked at 559 teens, ages 14 to 18, in Augusta, Ga., and found that they consumed an average of about one-third of the daily recommended amount of fiber. Only about 1 percent of the teens met the recommended daily fiber intake of 28 grams for females and 38 grams for males.
According to the researchers at the Georgia Health Sciences University, teens who didn't eat enough fiber tended to have larger waistlines and higher levels of inflammatory factors in their blood. Both of those conditions are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The researchers believe that the message here is simple—that we need to push teens to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains—but that this is not so simple to implement. Teens seem to prefer processed foods, and the media, through advertising, encourages this. Also, some high fiber foods have unpleasant side effects such as gas, bloating and diarrhea.
The solution may be to start small: encourage your teen to include vegetables like lettuce and cabbage in their hamburgers and sandwiches. You can also keep your refrigerator and pantry full of high-fiber alternative such as whole grain bread and tortillas as well as cereals that offer at least 4 grams of fiber per serving. And when possible, ask for whole wheat crust when ordering pizza for the family.