A pilot study to determine the short-term effects of a low glycemic load diet on hormonal markers of acne: a nonrandomized, parallel, controlled feeding trial

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008 Jun;52(6):718-26. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200700307.


Observational evidence suggests that dietary glycemic load may be one environmental factor contributing to the variation in acne prevalence worldwide. To investigate the effect of a low glycemic load (LGL) diet on endocrine aspects of acne vulgaris, 12 male acne sufferers (17.0 +/- 0.4 years) completed a parallel, controlled feeding trial involving a 7-day admission to a housing facility. Subjects consumed either an LGL diet (n = 7; 25% energy from protein and 45% from carbohydrates) or a high glycemic load (HGL) diet (n = 5; 15% energy from protein, 55% energy from carbohydrate). Study outcomes included changes in the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), free androgen index (FAI), insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), and its binding proteins (IGFBP-I and IGFBP-3). Changes in HOMA-IR were significantly different between groups at day 7 (-0.57 for LGL vs. 0.14 for HGL, p = 0.03). SHBG levels decreased significantly from baseline in the HGL group (p = 0.03), while IGFBP-I and IGFBP-3 significantly increased (p = 0.03 and 0.03, respectively) in the LGL group. These results suggest that increases in dietary glycemic load may augment the biological activity of sex hormones and IGF-I, suggesting that these diets may aggravate potential factors involved in acne development.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / blood*
  • Acne Vulgaris / etiology
  • Acne Vulgaris / prevention & control
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Androgens / blood
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Capillaries
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Food
  • Glycemic Index*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Androgens
  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Proteins
  • Lipids
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Testosterone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I