• Open Access

Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for carbohydrates and dietary fibre


  • EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA)

  • Panel members: Carlo Agostoni, Jean-Louis Bresson, Susan Fairweather-Tait, Albert Flynn, Ines Golly, Hannu Korhonen, Pagona Lagiou, Martinus Løvik, Rosangela Marchelli, Ambroise Martin, Bevan Moseley, Monika Neuhäuser-Berthold, Hildegard Przyrembel, Seppo Salminen, Yolanda Sanz, Sean (J.J.) Strain, Stephan Strobel, Inge Tetens, Daniel Tomé, Hendrik van Loveren and Hans Verhagen.
  • Correspondence: nda@efsa.europa.eu
  • Acknowledgement: The Panel wishes to thank for the preparation of this Opinion: Nils-Georg Asp, Wulf Becker, Henk van den Berg, Karin Hulshof, Albert Flynn, Ambroise Martin, Hildegard Przyrembel, Inge Tetens and EFSA's staff member Silvia Valtueña Martínez.
  • Adoption date: 4 December 2009
  • Published date: 25 March 2010
  • Question number: EFSA-Q-2008-467
  • On request from: European Commission


This Opinion of the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA) deals with the establishment of Dietary Reference Values for carbohydrates and dietary fibre. Nutritionally, two broad categories of carbohydrates can be differentiated: “glycaemic carbohydrates”, i.e. carbohydrates digested and absorbed in the human small intestine, and ‘dietary fibre’, non-digestible carbohydrates passing to the large intestine. In this Opinion, dietary fibre is defined as non-digestible carbohydrates plus lignin. The absolute dietary requirement for glycaemic carbohydrates is not precisely known but will depend on the amount of fat and protein ingested. The Panel proposes 45 to 60 E% as the reference Intake range for carbohydrates applicable to both adults and children older than one year of age. Although high frequency of intake of sugar-containing foods can increase the risk of dental caries, there are insufficient data to set an upper limit for (added) sugar intake. Based on the available evidence on bowel function, the Panel considers dietary fibre intakes of 25 g/day to be adequate for normal laxation in adults. A fibre intake of 2 g/MJ is considered adequate for normal laxation in children from the age of one year. Although there is some experimental evidence that a reduction of the dietary glycaemic index and glycaemic load may have favourable effects on some metabolic risk factors such as serum lipids, the evidence for a role in weight maintenance and prevention of diet-related diseases is inconclusive.