In America, GI diet not yet ready for primetime

While the Glycaemic Index diet builds momentum in select European markets such as the UK and the Netherlands, and has established itself in Australia, it will be many years before it gains popularity in the US, if at all, according to one New York-based market analyst.

Despite a trickle of GI product launches in the US, a lack of consumer education coupled with a hangover from the low-carb party means GI dieting may not take off in a market renowned for its preference for quick-fix diets. The GI diet is neither simple nor does it promise a nutritional silver bullet.

?The problem with GI is that there is a tremendous amount of education that is going to have to take place,? Tom Vierhile, executive editor at Productscan, told FF&N. ?People don?t quite get it, and public awareness is still pretty low. It might be three or four years before the big food companies start launching GI products in the US. There are mass market products like Hershey?s sugar-free candies that talk about GI on the back of the package, but they are not making GI an integral part of the marketing of the product.?

Others like Mars? Snickers Marathon Energy Bar are being sold with a more prominent GI message. Vierhile noted a crucial difference between the US and European markets. ?I think Europe largely avoided the whole low-carb thing, and so European companies were able to change midstream to GI, whereas US companies were too far into low carb. US companies lost so much on low carb, they are proceeding cautiously.?

The US-based Grain Foods Foundation has come out against the diet stating that any claims of health or weight-control benefits ?simply have not been backed by a fair amount of the published research.? However, advocates of the GI diet like professor Jennie Brand-Miller of the University of Sydney point to more than 10 peer-reviewed studies highlighting weight control, diabetes and other health benefits.

GI ranks foods according to their effect on blood glucose levels.

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