oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - The glycaemic index in practice - consensus statement of a small group of South African dietitians

Volume 18, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1607-0658
  • E-ISSN: 2221-1268



A group of 36 dietitians and nutritionists evaluated the practical application of the glycaemic index (GI) of foods during a master class at the 2002 South African Nutrition Congress (Potchefstroom, 5 - 9 November 2002). The group reached consensus that the GI is a useful concept and a scientifically based tool to choose carbohydrate-containing foods. The group agreed that the GI of a food reflects the immediate effect of the food on blood glucose homeostasis. There was agreement that the habitual consumption of low-GI carbohydrate foods probably reduces risk of cardiovascular disease through effects on lipid risk factors and that it probably improves prevention and control of diabetes mellitus through effects on insulin resistance. The group further agreed that the evidence that the GI of foods may play a role in planning of diets with higher satiety value, preventing and controlling obesity and behavioural disorders, and improving physical performance, needs to be strengthened with more research. There was consensus that there is sufficient potential and experience with low-GI diets to support labelling of South African food products for GI, creating a mechanism to inform and educate the public towards responsible use of the concept. However, the group also agreed that there are problem areas and potential pitfalls in measuring and reporting the GI of foods, and therefore recommends standardisation of methodology. There was consensus that more research on the GI of typical South African foods, knowledge and attitudes of consumers, as well as the development of suitable teaching aids are needed.

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