Towards understanding of glycaemic index and glycaemic load in habitual diet: associations with measures of glycaemia in the Insulin Resistance Atherosclerosis Study

Br J Nutr. 2006 Feb;95(2):397-405. doi: 10.1079/bjn20051636.


Epidemiologic studies have applied the glycaemic index (GI) and glycaemic load (GL) to assessments of usual dietary intake. Results have been inconsistent particularly for the association of GI or GL with diabetes incidence. We aimed to advance understanding of the GI and GL as applied to food frequency questionnaires (FFQ) by evaluating GI and GL in relation to plasma measures of glycaemia. Included were 1255 adults at a baseline examination (1994-6) and 813 who returned for the 5-year follow-up examination. Usual diet, at both examinations, was assessed by a validated FFQ. GI and GL were evaluated in relation to average fasting glucose (two measures at each examination) and 2 h post-75 g glucose load plasma glucose (baseline and follow-up), and glycated haemoglobin (A1c; follow-up only); using generalized linear models. Correlation coefficients (r) for GI and GL related to measures of glycaemia, adjusted for total energy intake, ranged from -0.004 to 0.04 (all NS) for both examinations. Adjustment for potential confounders, for fasting glucose in models for 2 h glucose (to model incremental glucose) and for average fasting glucose in models for A1c (to account, in part, for overnight endogenous glucose production) also did not materially alter findings, nor did inclusion of data from both examinations together in linear mixed models. The present results call into question the utility of GI and GL to reflect glycaemic response to food adequately, when used in the context of usual diet. Further work is needed to quantify usual dietary exposures relative to glucose excursion and associated chronic glycaemia and other metabolic parameters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Fasting / physiology
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance / metabolism
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Glycemic Index*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A