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Blood Glucose Levels

Obesity and the Glycemic Index

Home | Diabetes | Obesity | GI of foods | GI determination | Factors affecting GI's | Limitations | Wrap Up

Could the glycemic index be useful in losing weight?

Although the glycemic index is just starting to be advertised, the idea has been around since the 1970s. Two researchers, Otto and Crapo, looked at the glycemic response of a range of foods in the early 70s. They believed that the classification of "simple" and "complex" did not truly explain the metabolic effects in the body. Then, in 1981, Dr. David Jenkins and associates at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada instituted the idea of the glycemic index. Dr. Jenkins published an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1981 demonstrating their standardized version of the glycemic response. Many people are still examining the possible benefits of using the Glycemic Index in weight loss and diabetes, especially in Europe (Steenkamp).

Since the Glycemic Index is a scale of how quickly a particular food will raise an individual's blood glucose level, it can be helpful for individuals suffering from diabetes, but may also be linked to weight loss. The human body is most stable in terms of hunger and satiety when an individual's blood sugar is steady and does not fluctuate between extremes. Eating foods that have a high glycemic response usually cause a quick energy rush that is followed by sluggishness, hunger, and increased fat storage. This is why some nutritionists believe that eating foods with a low glycemic response will aid in weight loss. Their support for this claim stems from the fact that low glycemic response foods release glucose more steadily and do not stimulate as much of an insulin response. Thus, the blood sugar is stable and the food provides more satiety. Also, since less insulin will be released, the body will store less fat because insulin encourages body fat storage. Current research also states that since low glycemic foods generally contain more fiber, this type of diet may also reduce the risk of heart disease and colon cancer (Wolever).

Leslie Selcke
University of Illinois
FSHN 120 Honors Project
Fall 2005