Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

The argument against glycemic index labelling

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The International Scientific Consensus Summit on Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load and Glycemic Response resulted in a consensus statement that, among other things, proposed consideration of the inclusion of glycemic index/load on nutrition labels. As a dietitian I can see how that information might be interesting and useful. However, I’m not so sure that it would be all that useful to the vast majority of consumers. Most people struggle with label reading as it is and adding GI information (which can be confusing) will just complicate matters. It’s also just one of many factors to take into consideration when selecting foods.

A high glycemic index rating doesn’t necessarily make for an unhealthy food (think watermelon). Just as a low glycemic index rating doesn’t necessarily make for a healthy food (think agave syrup). This doesn’t even get into the complication of the difference between glycemic index and glycemic load. let’s just say that GL has more meaning and leave it at that. Another consideration: we don’t eat most foods in isolation. Bread has a fairly high GI but how often do you eat a slice of bread by itself? Most of us will use it for a sandwich or toast it and spread peanut butter on it. The addition of low GI foods mediates the effect that high GI foods have on your blood sugar. I also foresee such labeling as another opportunity for the food industry to mislead consumers (think “gluten-free” and “cholesterol-free”). Health-washing processed foods so that people can feel better about buying their low-GI agave sweetened corn puffs.

Nutrition has already become far too complicated. I don’t think that we need another number on packages to make things more complicated for people. A good rule of thumb: avoid foods with packages altogether as often as possible.

Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people see food and nutrition from a different perspective and understand that nutrition and health are not necessarily a result of personal choice.

One thought on “The argument against glycemic index labelling

  1. Pingback: The glycemic index #realtalk | bite my words

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