Effect of a low-glycemic index or a high-cereal fiber diet on type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial

JAMA. 2008 Dec 17;300(23):2742-53. doi: 10.1001/jama.2008.808.


Context: Clinical trials using antihyperglycemic medications to improve glycemic control have not demonstrated the anticipated cardiovascular benefits. Low-glycemic index diets may improve both glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors for patients with type 2 diabetes but debate over their effectiveness continues due to trial limitations.

Objective: To test the effects of low-glycemic index diets on glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Design, setting, and participants: A randomized, parallel study design at a Canadian university hospital research center of 210 participants with type 2 diabetes treated with antihyperglycemic medications who were recruited by newspaper advertisement and randomly assigned to receive 1 of 2 diet treatments each for 6 months between September 16, 2004, and May 22, 2007.

Intervention: High-cereal fiber or low-glycemic index dietary advice.

Main outcome measures: Absolute change in glycated hemoglobin A(1c) (HbA(1c)), with fasting blood glucose and cardiovascular disease risk factors as secondary measures.

Results: In the intention-to-treat analysis, HbA(1c) decreased by -0.18% absolute HbA(1c) units (95% confidence interval [CI], -0.29% to -0.07%) in the high-cereal fiber diet compared with -0.50% absolute HbA(1c) units (95% CI, -0.61% to -0.39%) in the low-glycemic index diet (P < .001). There was also an increase of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the low-glycemic index diet by 1.7 mg/dL (95% CI, 0.8-2.6 mg/dL) compared with a decrease of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol by -0.2 mg/dL (95% CI, -0.9 to 0.5 mg/dL) in the high-cereal fiber diet (P = .005). The reduction in dietary glycemic index related positively to the reduction in HbA(1c) concentration (r = 0.35, P < .001) and negatively to the increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (r = -0.19, P = .009).

Conclusion: In patients with type 2 diabetes, 6-month treatment with a low-glycemic index diet resulted in moderately lower HbA(1c) levels compared with a high-cereal fiber diet. Trial Registration clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT00438698.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates*
  • Dietary Fiber*
  • Edible Grain*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Glycemic Index*
  • Humans
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypolipidemic Agents

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00438698