Winner Grant 2014

Diewertje Sluik: The glycaemic index (GI) of beer: does moderate beer consumption fit in a low GI-diet? 
Wageningen University & Research

The glycaemic index (GI) was introduced in 1981 as a means of classifying carbohydrate- rich foods according to their effect on glucose levels (1). Nowadays, the GI is also a popular concept in dieting: a low-GI diet is believed to enhance weight loss. Moreover, a diet high in GI and/or glycaemic load (GL; the GI of a food multiplied by the carbohydrate content) is associated with an increased diabetes risk. 

A reliable GI-value for beer is lacking in scientific literature. Several GI-values have been reported, ranging from 0 to 119. The GI of 119 is the only published value determined following the standard research methodology (2). However, this study used only two reference glucose solutions; as a result, within-person variability might be increased. 

Moreover, beer consumption explained a large proportion of variation of dietary GI in two studies. Beer contributed with dairy, potatoes, bread, cereals, and fruit to the between- individual variation in GI of 1,071 U.S. adults (3). Next, beer and milk captured most to the between-individual variation of GI in 25,943 participants from a large Finnish intervention study (4). This may be due to the higher GI of beer, but it may also be that persons with a higher beer intake, also have a higher consumption of high-GI foods. Within the Netherlands, we have previously shown that persons with higher beer consumption also consumed more high-GI foods such as potatoes, bread, and soft drinks (5). Thus, beer consumption might also be a marker of a high-GI diet. 

The objective of this study is to assess the GI and GL of beer and the contribution of beer to the total dietary GI and GL within the Netherlands. 

This aim is divided into three sub-objectives: 

  1. To provide a reliable estimate of the GI and GL of beer. 
  2. To estimate the contribution of beer to the total level and variance of dietary GI and GL of the Dutch population within the Dutch National Food Consumption Survey 2007 – 2010. 
  3. To evaluate whether moderate beer consumption fits in a low-GI diet. 

Beer, Glycaemic index (GI), Glycaemic load (GL)

Publication supported by grant:
Sluik, Diewertje,  Atkinson Fiona S., Brand-Miller Jennie C. et al. Contributors to dietary glycaemic index and glycaemic load in the Netherlands: the role of beer. Br J Nutr 2016.


1. Jenkins DJ, Wolever TM, Taylor RH, Barker H, Fielden H, Baldwin JM, et al. Glycemic index of foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 1981;34(3):362-6. Epub 1981/03/01.

2. Hatonen KA, Virtamo J, Eriksson JG, Perala MM, Sinkko HK, Leiviska J, et al. Modifying effects of alcohol on the postprandial glucose and insulin responses in healthy subjects. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2012;96(1):44-9. Epub 2012/06/01. 

3. Schulz M, Liese AD, Mayer-Davis EJ, D'Agostino RB, Jr., Fang F, Sparks KC, et al. Nutritional correlates of dietary glycaemic index: new aspects from a population perspective. The British journal of nutrition. 2005;94(3):397-406. Epub 2005/09/24. 

4. Simila ME, Valsta LM, Virtanen MJ, Hatonen KA, Virtamo J. Glycaemic index database for the epidemiological Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) Study. The British journal of nutrition. 2009;101(9):1400-5. Epub 2008/09/26.

5. Sluik D, van Lee L, Geelen A, Feskens EJ. Alcoholic beverage preference and diet in a representative Dutch population: the Dutch national food consumption survey 2007-2010. European journal of clinical nutrition. 2014;68(3):287-94. Epub 2014/01/09.