Effects of low glycaemic index/low glycaemic load vs. high glycaemic index/ high glycaemic load diets on overweight/obesity and associated risk factors in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Nutr J. 2015 Aug 25:14:87. doi: 10.1186/s12937-015-0077-1.


The objective of the present systematic review and meta-analysis was to synthesize the available literature data investigating the effects of low glycaemic index/low glycamic load dietary regimens on anthropometric parameters, blood lipid profiles, and indicators of glucose metabolism in children and adolescents. Literature search was performed using the electronic databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register of trials with restrictions to randomized controlled trials, but no limitations concerning language and publication date. Parameters taken into account were: body weight, body mass index, z-score of body mass index, fat mass, fat-free mass, height, waist cicrumference, hip circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, diastolic and systolic blood pressure, fasting serum glucose, fasting serum insulin, HOMA-index, glycosylated haemoglobin, and C-reactive protein. Meta-analyses were performed for each parameter to assess pooled effect in terms of weighted mean differences between the post-intervention (or differences in means) of the low glycaemic index diets and the respective high glycaemic index counterparts. Data analysis was performed using the Review Manager 5.3. software. Nine studies enrolling 1.065 children or adolescents met the inclusion criteria. Compared to diets providing a high gylcaemic index, low glycaemic index protocols resulted in significantly more pronounced decreases in serum triglycerides [mean differences -15.14 mg/dl, 95%-CI (-26.26, -4.00)] and HOMA-index [mean difference -0.70, 95%-CI (-1.37, -0.04), fixed-effects model only]. Other parameters under investigation were not affected by either low or high glycaemic indices. The present systematic review and meta-analysis provides evidence of a beneficial effect of a low glycaemic index/load diet in children and adolescents being either overweight or obese. Regarding the limitations of this analysis, further studies adopting a homogenous design are necessary to assure the present findings. Since low glycaemic index/load regimens were not associated with a deterioration of the outcome parameters, these diets should not be categorically excluded when looking for alternatives to change lifestyle habits in this age group.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Glycemic Index*
  • Glycemic Load*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Overweight / blood*
  • Pediatric Obesity / blood
  • Risk Factors