(ARA) - Does meat contain fiber? How many people pay attention to food labels, and are they looking at fiber? Do Americans know how much fiber they need in a day? A recent consumer survey, conducted by the National Fiber Council (NFC), uncovered answers to these questions and more to determine what Americans really know about fiber and why they're not getting enough. The results may surprise you.

"Americans know fiber is important to maintain good health but they aren't sure where to find it," said Jim Anderson, M.D., chair of the National Fiber Council. "The results of this survey prove that despite gains made in recent years, we still have a lot of ground to cover if we want to make fiber a priority for Americans."

To help educate Americans about the benefits of dietary fiber, the NFC recently unveiled a full suite of new educational resources on its Web site, www.nationalfibercouncil.org , including a free consumer brochure titled, "A Fresh Look at Fiber."  

Commissioned by the NFC, the nation's leading group of fiber experts, the survey was conducted by the Opinion Research Corporation. The survey includes a random sampling of 1,000 respondents who were polled via phone using Random Digital Dial (RDD). A cross section of the survey results are listed below:

* Do people really know how much fiber they need?

While 65 percent of those surveyed try to eat foods that are high in fiber, more than two thirds of respondents (88 percent) did not know the number of grams of fiber recommended per day for a healthy body. The NFC recommends 32 grams of fiber per day for a healthy body.

* Is there fiber in meat?
Sixty-two percent of respondents believe that meat is a source of fiber. There is no fiber in meat. Fiber can only be derived from plant products.

* When are Americans getting their fiber?
Forty-two percent of respondents cited breakfast as the meal in which they consume the most fiber followed closely by dinner (32 percent). Lunch was a distant third, receiving 18 percent of the vote.

* Do Americans read food labels?
Seventy-two percent of those surveyed read food labels, but less than half (48 percent) look at the amount of fiber per serving. Not surprisingly, the majority of Americans (61 percent) are most interested in the amount of saturated fat per serving.

* How do Americans stay healthy if they don't exercise?
Eighty-five percent of respondents believe they are in good health. Only slightly more than half, however, reported that they regularly exercise (58 percent). Respondents attributed their good health to reading food labels, avoiding foods high in fat, eating foods high in fiber and taking vitamins and/or supplements, to name a few.

In addition to promoting general wellness and intestinal health, the survey revealed that a majority of Americans are increasingly aware of the additional health benefits of fiber:

* 78 percent recognize that fiber keeps you full
* 76 percent associate fiber with helping to lower cholesterol
* 72 percent believe that fiber helps with weight management
* 67 percent are aware that fiber can help with diabetes prevention

"Experts have been trying to educate consumers for years about the health benefits of fiber," added Anderson. "Despite this, we've seen a rise in health conditions that put your life in danger -- high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and certain cancers -- the risk of which can be greatly reduced by getting the NFC's recommended 32 grams of fiber per day."


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