British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Dietary Surveys and Nutritional Epidemiology

Dietary glycaemic index and glycaemic load in relation to food and nutrient intake and indices of body fatness in British children and adolescents

Kentaro Murakamia1a2 c1, Tracy A. McCaffreya1 and M. Barbara E. Livingstonea1

a1 Northern Ireland Centre for Food and Health (NICHE), University of Ulster, Cromore Road, Coleraine BT52 1SA, UK

a2 JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow for Research Abroad, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo 102-8472, Japan


The diversity of the associations of dietary glycaemic index (GI) and glycaemic load (GL) with dietary intake and body fatness observed in epidemiological studies may be partly due to the differences in underlying dietary intake patterns. We examined the cross-sectional associations of dietary GI and GL with food and nutrient intakes and indices of body fatness in 818 children aged 4–10 years and 818 adolescents aged 11–18 years in Britain, based on the data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Dietary intake was assessed using a 7 d weighed dietary record. Overweight was defined as BMI ≥ 85th percentile of the age- and sex-specific British growth reference data. Central obesity was defined as waist:height ratio (WHtR) ≥ 0·5 (adolescents only). Breads, breakfast cereals and potatoes were the positive predictive food groups for dietary GI, while dairy products, fruit juice, other cereals and fruit were the negative predictors. Dietary GL was closely correlated with carbohydrate intake. Dietary GI showed no associations with overweight or central obesity. Conversely, dietary GL showed an independent association with a higher risk of overweight in children and a higher risk of central obesity (but not overweight) in adolescents. However, dietary GI and GL were not associated with BMI z-score in children and adolescents or WHtR in adolescents. In conclusion, the present study showed that dietary GL was independently associated with overweight in children and with central obesity in adolescents. Nevertheless, given no associations when body fatness measures were treated as continuous variables, the results must be interpreted cautiously.

(Received October 26 2012)

(Revised February 07 2013)

(Accepted February 08 2013)

(Online publication March 27 2013)

Key Words:

  • Glycaemic index;
  • Glycaemic load;
  • Obesity;
  • Under-reporting


c1 Corresponding author: Dr K. Murakami, fax +44 28 7032 3023, email


  Abbreviations: AR, acceptable reporter; EER, estimated energy requirement; EI, energy intake; GI, glycaemic index; GL, glycaemic load; MET, metabolic equivalents; NDNS, National Diet and Nutrition Survey; PAL, physical activity level; TEE, total energy expenditure; UR, under-reporter; WHtR, waist:height ratio