Development of a glycemic index database for food frequency questionnaires used in epidemiologic studies

Marian L. Neuhouser, Lesley F. Tinker, Cynthia Thomson, Bette Caan, Linda Van Horn, Linda Snetselaar, Linda M. Parker, Ruth E. Patterson, Ramona Robinson-O'Brien, Shirley A.A. Beresford, James M. Shikany

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Consumption of foods with a high glycemic index (GI) or glycemic load (GL) is hypothesized to contribute to insulin resistance, which is associated with increased risk of diabetes mellitus, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. However, dietary assessment of GI and GL is difficult because values are not included in standard food composition databases. Our objective was to develop a database of GI and GL values that could be integrated into an existing dietary database used for the analysis of FFQ. Food GI values were obtained from published human experimental studies or imputed from foods with a similar carbohydrate and fiber content. We then applied the values to the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) FFQ database and tested the output in a random sample of previously completed WHI FFQs. Of the 122 FFQ line items (disaggregated into 350 foods), 83% had sufficient carbohydrate (>5 g/serving) for receipt of GI and GL values. The foods on the FFQ food list with the highest GL were fried breads, potatoes, pastries, pasta, and soft drinks. The fiber content of foods had very little influence on calculated GI or GL estimates. The augmentation of this FFQ database with GI and GL values will enable etiologic investigations of GI and GL with numerous disease outcomes in the WHI and other epidemiologic studies that utilize this FFQ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1604-1609
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Dietary assessment
  • Glycemic index
  • Glycemic load
  • Nutrient database

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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