Nondigestible carbohydrates in the diets of infants and young children: A commentary by the ESPGHAN Committee on Nutrition

PJ Aggett, C Agostoni, Irene Axelsson, CA Edwards, O Goulet, O Hernell, B Koletzko, HN Lafeber, JL Micheli, KF Michaelsen, J Rigo, H Szajewska, LT Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Citations (SciVal)


The consumption of nondigestible carbohydrates is perceived as beneficial by health professionals and the general public, but the translation of this information into dietary practice, public health recommendations, and regulatory policy has proved difficult. Nondiaestible carbohydrates are a heterogeneous entity, and their definition is problematic. Without a means to characterize the dietary components associated with particular health benefits, specific attributions of these cannot be made. Food labeling for "fiber" constituents can be given only in a general context, and the development of health policy, dietary advice, and education, and informed public understanding of nondigestible carbohydrates are limited. There have, however, been several important developments in our thinking about nondigestible carbohydrates during the past few years. The concept of fiber has expanded to include a range of nondigestible carbohydrates. Their fermentation, fate, and effects in the colon have become a defining characteristic; human milk, hitherto regarded as devoid of nondigestible carbo-hydrates, is now recognized as a source for infants, and the inclusion of nondigestible carbohydrates in the diet has been promoted for their "prebiotic" effects. Therefore, a review of the importance of nondigestible carbohydrates in the diets of infants and young children is timely. The aims of this commentary are to clarify the current definitions of nondigestible carbohydrates, to review published evidence for their biochemical, physiologic, nutritional, and clinical effects, and to discuss issues involved in defining dietary guidelines for infants and young children. (C) 2003 Lippincott Williams Wilkins, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-337
JournalJournal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition - Jpgn
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Pediatrics


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