Objectives: To describe dietary glycaemic index (GI) and glycaemic load (GL) values in the population participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study according to food groups, nutrients and lifestyle characteristics.
Methods: Single 24-h dietary recalls (24-HDRs) from 33 566 subjects were used to calculate dietary GI and GL, and an ad hoc database was created as the main reference source. Mean GI and GL intakes were adjusted for age, total energy intake, height and weight, and were weighted by season and day of recall.
Results: GI was the lowest in Spain and Germany, and highest in the Netherlands, United Kingdom and Denmark for both genders. In men, GL was the lowest in Spain and Germany and highest in Italy, whereas in women, it was the lowest in Spain and Greece and highest in the UK health-conscious cohort. Bread was the largest contributor to GL in all centres (15-45%), but it also showed the largest inter-individual variation. GL, but not GI, tended to be lower in the highest body mass index category in both genders. GI was positively correlated with starch and intakes of bread and potatoes, whereas it was correlated negatively with intakes of sugar, fruit and dairy products. GL was positively correlated with all carbohydrate components and intakes of cereals, whereas it was negatively correlated with fat and alcohol and with intakes of wine, with large variations across countries.
Conclusions: GI means varied modestly across countries and genders, whereas GL means varied more, but it may possibly act as a surrogate of carbohydrate intake.