The clinical utility of the glycemic index and its application to mixed meals

Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1991 Jan;69(1):100-7. doi: 10.1139/y91-014.


A classification of carbohydrate-containing foods based on their glycemic response to 50-g carbohydrate portions has recently been developed. The relative glycemic potency of many of these carbohydrate-containing foods have been compared, and these data have been published in the form of a glycemic index. It has been suggested that meals containing low glycemic index foods will result in a lower postprandial glucose response than meals with a higher glycemic index. However, whether or not these data will lead to a clinically useful reduction in postprandial hyperglycemia in individuals with carbohydrate intolerance remains controversial. In this review, we will try to delineate why we believe that the glycemic index, as currently developed, may be a specious tissue. In addition, we will briefly discuss a number of factors that may explain the apparent discrepancy in viewpoints on this issue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology*
  • Humans


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates