Nutritionists in India have called for clear labelling of the glycemic index (GI) on food products, as a new survey has revealed a low level of awareness on GI consumption.
The “GUIDe Study’’ (for Glycemic Index-Usage, Interpretation in Diabetes & Well-being), showed that only 45% of Indian consumers were aware about GI and the implications of eating high-GI foods.
The glycemic index is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates, in food on blood sugar levels.
The survey involved participation from 900 clinical nutritionists and dieticians in India across four metro cities – New Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkatta and Mumbai -with 225 of these experts then surveyed online from each metro.
Mrinalini Manral, a Mumbai-based nutritionist, told FoodNavigator-Asia that the country’s nutritionists and dietitians are united in their demand of a mandatory labelling of food by the government.
“Our industry bodies and those of other related trades has sought policy changes by the government to ensure that food products mention their GI levels. We want food makers to mark and label food as low or high on GI for people to make healthy choices,’’ she said.
Under current law, regulated by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, food manufacturers are not obligated to label the GI levels on their food products, though the body has received petitions to amend the laws for this.
Mixed knowledge on GI
Findings showed around 63% of those consumers aware of GI linked it with the management of diabetes, with the rest making no link to carbohydrate intake and fatigue issues.
However, a large percentage of the Indian population (86%) believe that unhealthy nutrition is a threat to public health and can lead to lifestyle-related disorders.
Over 90% of people are educated about GI on their first visit to a dietician with most specifically informed about its effects on obesity and coronary disease.
A vast majority of dieticians (84%) believe that the GI index ranking is helpful in reducing obesity and recommending low GI foods as well as a 93% stating the index rankings help in reducing disease across the country.