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Making the Glycemic Index easier to use

Toronto, June 11, 2015

By Melissa Di Costanzo

Dr. David Jenkins
Dr. David Jenkins

An education and symbol program for people to take better advantage of the Glycemic Index (GI) is coming to Canada, meaning people living with diabetes will benefit from an additional way to help control their blood sugar.

This news will be shared Thursday, June 11 at the 33rd International Symposium on Diabetes and Nutrition in Toronto, which will feature leading GI experts from around the globe.

GI is a measure associated with a food indicating the impact it has on blood sugar compared to a standard food. Food considered high GI (such as a white bagel, short-grain rice or potatoes) breaks down rapidly, raising blood sugar quicker, and will mean you’re likely to crave food soon after eating. Low GI foods (including whole-wheat pasta, whole barley or dry beans, peas and lentils) take more time to break down, resulting in lower increases in blood sugar, and leaving you feeling full and satisfied longer.

“I have been following a low glycemic index diet for the past two years and have experienced great results,” said Marianne MacLeod. “I really hope that the GI symbol program will soon be possible on products, in order for us as consumers to make better choices."

Following a low GI diet could help people living with diabetes better control their blood sugar levels. The index, developed in the 1980s by Dr. David Jenkins and colleagues, could help prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Dr. Jenkins is a physician at St. Michael’s Hospital and professor and Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Metabolism at the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto.

“Clear identification and education on what falls on the low end of the glycemic index will go a long way to help all Canadians – and especially those living with diabetes – make informed choices,” said Dr. Jenkins. He added we’re seeing an increase in the number of people diagnosed with diabetes, currently 20 every hour across Canada. “The number of people with diagnosed diabetes is expected to grow in the next 10 years from 3.4 million in 2015 to five million in 2025,” said Dr. Jenkins. “Let’s do what we can now to help stem the tide and reduce the development of complications in those with diabetes.”

The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) will provide education around low GI to raise awareness, and help people make informed choices.

“The Canadian Diabetes Association has world renowned Clinical Practice Guidelines on how to care for people living with diabetes,” said Rick Blickstead, President and CEO at the CDA. “A low GI diet is something we recommend, so a GI program is the natural next step to help Canadians living with diabetes benefit from the incredible expertise contained in the guidelines,” said Carolyn Gall Casey, Director of Education at CDA.

The GI symbol criteria and a public education program will be developed in the coming months.

The 33rd International Symposium on Diabetes and Nutrition is being held in Toronto, at the Toronto Yorkville InterContinental City Hotel. CDA President and CEO Rick Blickstead will offer opening remarks, followed by the Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dipika Damerla. International speakers and nutrition researchers will also be sharing findings. For more information, please visit www.DNSG2015.ca.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About the CDA

The CDA is the registered national charity that helps the 10 million Canadians with diabetes or prediabetes live healthy lives, while also educating those at risk. In communities across Canada, the CDA:

  • offers a wide array of support services to members of the public;
  • offers resources to health-care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
  • advocates to governments, schools, workplaces and others on behalf of people with diabetes; and,
  • funds research on better treatments and to find a cure.

For more information, visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).