oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Complexities of consumer understanding of the glycaemic index concept and practical guidelines for incorporation in diets

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



The glycaemic index (GI) concept has been widely debated during the past two decades. Controversies still reign among health professionals regarding the practical application of the concept despite numerous reports on the health benefits associated with low-GI diets. Those opposed to the practical implementation of the GI concept argue that the use of technical terminology and numerical figures, limited food choices and potential misconceptions about unrestricted amounts of low-GI foods that may result in concomitant high fat intake, may confuse the consumer and will distract from other important dietary advice. Conversely, proponents of the GI concept state that consumers find the GI to be simple, logical and helpful and acknowledge that by expanding the range of foods they may include in their diets the GI concept is a major step forward for people with diabetes mellitus. Complexities of consumer understanding of the GI concept are discussed and suggestions are made to incorporate high- and low-GI foods in the context of current dietary guidelines and client education. If health professionals apply the GI concept in a practical way and explain the concept in a clear, uncomplicated manner, current dietary advice will be supported (and not opposed), resulting in short- and long-term health benefits for consumers.

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