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Keywords:

  • Body weight;
  • carbohydrates;
  • GI;
  • satiety

Summary

In diabetes research the glycaemic index (GI) of carbohydrates has long been recognized and a low GI is recommended. The same is now often the case in lipid research. Recently, a new debate has arisen around whether a low-GI diet should also be advocated for appetite- and long-term body weight control. A systematic review was performed of published human intervention studies comparing the effects of high- and low-GI foods or diets on appetite, food intake, energy expenditure and body weight. In a total of 31 short-term studies (<1 d), low-GI foods were associated with greater satiety or reduced hunger in 15 studies, whereas reduced satiety or no differences were seen in 16 other studies. Low-GI foods reduced ad libitum food intake in seven studies, but not in eight other studies. In 20 longer-term studies (<6 months), a weight loss on a low-GI diet was seen in four and on a high-GI diet in two, with no difference recorded in 14. The average weight loss was 1.5 kg on a low-GI diet and 1.6 kg on a high-GI diet. To conclude, there is no evidence at present that low-GI foods are superior to high-GI foods in regard to long-term body weight control. However, the ideal long-term study where ad libitum intake and fluctuations in body weight are permitted, and the diets are similar in all aspects except GI, has not yet been performed.