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Nutrients. 2011 Mar;3(3):330-40. doi: 10.3390/nu3030330. Epub 2011 Feb 28.

Perceived barriers to application of glycaemic index: valid concerns or lost in translation?

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Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3E2, Canada.


The term glycaemic-index (GI) originally appeared in the literature in the early 1980s. GI categorizes carbohydrate according to glycaemic effect postprandially. Since its inception, GI has obtained and maintained interest of academics and clinicians globally. Upon review of GI literature, it becomes clear that the clinical utility of GI is a source of controversy. Can and should GI be applied clinically? There are academics and clinicians on both sides of the argument. Certainly, this controversy has been a stimulus for the evolution of GI methodology and application research, but may also negatively impact clinicians' perception of GI if misunderstood. This article reviews two assessments of GI that are often listed as barriers to application; the GI concept is (1) too complex and (2) too difficult for clients to apply. The literature reviewed does not support the majority of purported barriers, but does indicate that there is a call from clinicians for more and improved GI education tools and clinician GI education. The literature indicates that the Registered Dietitian (RD) can play a key role in GI knowledge translation; from research to application. Research is warranted to assess GI education tool and knowledge needs of clinicians and the clients they serve.


barrier(s); clinician; dietitian; education; glycaemic-index; knowledge-translation

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