The application of the glycemic index and glycemic load in weight loss: A review of the clinical evidence

IUBMB Life. 2011 Jan;63(1):7-13. doi: 10.1002/iub.418.


Obesity is rapidly becoming a global epidemic. As it is a significant risk factor for several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, it is imperative to study dietary and lifestyle approaches that help reduce its prevalence. Recently, due to its possible link to appetite control and metabolism, several clinical studies have assessed the effect of low glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) diets on weight loss. To determine the application of GI/GL in the prevention and treatment of obesity, we searched several databases and identified 23 clinical trials that examined low GI/GL diets and weight loss as the primary outcome measure. In general, these studies showed much inconsistency in their findings. While a few studies found significantly greater weight loss on the low GI/GL diets, most of the other studies showed a non-significant trend that favored low GI/GL diets; suggesting that factors other than GI/GL may play a role. It would be helpful if a pooled analysis were undertaken to clarify the current findings and outline the limitations of these studies. There is also a need for more long-term randomized, controlled trials that not only focus on weight loss but also on weight maintenance and body composition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Child
  • Diet
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Glycemic Index*
  • Humans
  • Weight Loss*


  • Blood Glucose