Associations of the glycaemic index and the glycaemic load with risk of type 2 diabetes in 127 594 people from 20 countries (PURE): a prospective cohort study

Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2024 May;12(5):330-338. doi: 10.1016/S2213-8587(24)00069-X. Epub 2024 Apr 5.


Background: The association between the glycaemic index and the glycaemic load with type 2 diabetes incidence is controversial. We aimed to evaluate this association in an international cohort with diverse glycaemic index and glycaemic load diets.

Methods: The PURE study is a prospective cohort study of 127 594 adults aged 35-70 years from 20 high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries. Diet was assessed at baseline using country-specific validated food frequency questionnaires. The glycaemic index and the glycaemic load were estimated on the basis of the intake of seven categories of carbohydrate-containing foods. Participants were categorised into quintiles of glycaemic index and glycaemic load. The primary outcome was incident type 2 diabetes. Multivariable Cox Frailty models with random intercepts for study centre were used to calculate hazard ratios (HRs).

Findings: During a median follow-up of 11·8 years (IQR 9·0-13·0), 7326 (5·7%) incident cases of type 2 diabetes occurred. In multivariable adjusted analyses, a diet with a higher glycaemic index was significantly associated with a higher risk of diabetes (quintile 5 vs quintile 1; HR 1·15 [95% CI 1·03-1·29]). Participants in the highest quintile of the glycaemic load had a higher risk of incident type 2 diabetes compared with those in the lowest quintile (HR 1·21, 95% CI 1·06-1·37). The glycaemic index was more strongly associated with diabetes among individuals with a higher BMI (quintile 5 vs quintile 1; HR 1·23 [95% CI 1·08-1·41]) than those with a lower BMI (quintile 5 vs quintile 1; 1·10 [0·87-1·39]; p interaction=0·030).

Interpretation: Diets with a high glycaemic index and a high glycaemic load were associated with a higher risk of incident type 2 diabetes in a multinational cohort spanning five continents. Our findings suggest that consuming low glycaemic index and low glycaemic load diets might prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

Funding: Full funding sources are listed at the end of the Article.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / epidemiology
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Glycemic Index* / physiology
  • Glycemic Load*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Blood Glucose