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Leading Nutrition Scientists Provide Answers On Controversial Topic

BOSTON, June 11, 2013 – An international committee of leading nutrition scientists from ten countries on three continents today released an important Scientific Consensus Statement. They concluded that carbohydrate quality (measured by the glycemic index or GI) matters and that the carbohydrates present in different foods affect post-meal blood sugar differently, with important health implications. They also confirmed that there is convincing evidence from a large body of research that low glycemic index/glycemic load (GI/GL) diets reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease, help control blood glucose in people with diabetes, and may also help with weight management. The Committee recommended inclusion of glycemic index and glycemic load in national dietary guidelines and food composition tables, and that packaging labels and symbols on low-GI foods should be considered. They also confirmed low GI measurements complement other ways of characterizing carbohydrate foods (such as fiber and whole grain content), and should be considered in the context of an overall healthy diet.

The Consensus Statement was the culmination of the International Scientific Consensus Summit on Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load and Glycemic Response, organized June 6-7, 2013 in Stresa, Italy by two nonprofits, Oldways and the Nutrition Foundation of Italy. At the Summit, scientists reviewed the latest research on glycemic index (a measure of carbohydrate quality), glycemic load (a measure that combines carbohydrate quality and quantity in real-world portion sizes), and overall issues of glycemic response (how the body’s management of blood sugar is affected by both food and lifestyle, over time).

This Consensus Statement on how different foods affect our blood sugar is especially important, given the rapid rise in obesity and diabetes. The scientists stressed the need to communicate information on GI/GL to the general public and health professionals. That’s why Oldways and the Nutrition Foundation of Italy (NFI) – two nonprofits with a long history of consensus meetings – teamed up to facilitate this scientific meeting of the minds. “Top scientists and researchers presented their newest research and networked for a day and a half,” said Andrea Poli, Scientific Director of NFI. Oldways President Sara Baer-Sinnott further explained, “Then they deliberated for four hours, without media or any industry attendees present, to develop a consensus statement designed to clarify current consumer understanding and guide future research in this important area.”

Walter Willett, MD, DrPH, Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of the participating scientists said, “Given essentially conclusive evidence that high GI/GL diets contribute to risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, reduction in GI and GL should be a public health priority.”

David Jenkins, MD, PhD, DSc, Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Metabolism, in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto and widely acknowledged as the originator of the GI concept, announced that the scientists will continue to work together. “We have formed an international Carbohydrate Quality Consortium to collaborate and share research, with an overall goal of improving public health,” said Dr. Jenkins.

Short interviews with the scientists are available online through the Oldways and NFI websites, and scientists’ presentations will also be available soon.

Scientists taking part in the Scientific Consensus Summit included Dr. Jenkins and Dr. Thomas Wolever, who originated the concept of Glycemic Index at the University of Toronto, and Dr. Willett, who developed the Glycemic Load with colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health. Other renowned experts, pioneers and nutrition communicators contributing to the consensus were Jennie Brand-Miller and Alan Barclay from Australia; Cyril Kendall, John Sievenpiper and Livia Augustin from Canada; Salwa Rizkalla from France; Anette Buyken from Germany; Antonia Trichopoulou from Greece; Furio Brighenti, Carlo La Vecchia, Andrea Poli, and Gabriele Riccardi from Italy; Antonio Ceriello from Spain, Inger Björck from Sweden; Geoffrey Livesey from the UK, and Simin Liu and Sara Baer-Sinnott from the USA.

About Oldways (Boston, MA, USA)
Oldways ( is a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, guiding people to good health through heritage. Oldways is best known for its family of healthy, traditional food pyramids, including the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid, as well as its Whole Grains Council and Whole Grain Stamp, now on more than 8,000 products in 41 countries.  For two decades, Oldways has collaborated worldwide with experts including scientists, health care professionals, chefs, historians, food producers and food writers to create “mini-movements” that have inspired millions of people to change the way they eat. 

About NFI – Nutrition Foundation of Italy (Milan, Italy)
The Nutrition Foundation of Italy
( was created in December 1976 with the goal of enabling interaction and collaboration with government bodies, universities and industry to contribute to the development of scientific research, to the exchange of information in the field of nutrition and to the promotion of interdisciplinary researches in this area. NFI has a Scientific Committee of Experts with recognized competence in the different disciplines related to food and beverage.