Ethnicity not found to affect GI beverage response in Asia

By Gary Scattergood contact

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Forty-eight people (16 Chinese, 16 Indians, and 16 Malay) took part in the randomised, crossover study. ©iStock
Forty-eight people (16 Chinese, 16 Indians, and 16 Malay) took part in the randomised, crossover study. ©iStock
The glycaemic response (GR) to beverages does not vary depending on Asian ethnicity, with Chinese, Indian and Malay displaying similar responses, a first of its kind study has established.

This mirrors the findings of a previous study, which compared the glycaemic responses to solid foods among various Asian ethnic groups.

Writing in the European Journal of Nutrition​researchers in Singapore said a number of studies have compared the glycaemic index (GI) and GR to solid foods between Caucasians and Asians.

These studies have demonstrated that Asians have greater GI and GR values for solid foods than Caucasians. However, no study has compared the GI and GR to liquids among various Asian ethnic groups.

“Since glucose tolerance has been shown to differ between ethnic groups, it is possible that they also response differently to the nutrition formulas,”​ wrote the researchers.

“Therefore, the objective of this study was to compare the GR to three liquid nutritional supplements with different composition between Chinese, Indians, and Malay. These three ethnic groups represent over 60% of the world’s population.”

Forty-eight people (16 Chinese, 16 Indians, and 16 Malay) took part in the randomised, crossover study.

The GR to the reference liquid (glucose beverage) was measured on three occasions, and GR to three oral nutritional supplements were measured on one occasion each.

Liquids with different micronutrient ratios and carbohydrate types were chosen to be able to evaluate the response to products with different GIs.

And while there were statistically significant differences in GI and GR between the three liquids, there were no statistically significant differences in GI and GR for the liquids between the ethnic groups.

“Our study shows that the GR to the test beverages were not influenced by the ethnicity, which is in line with our previous study comparing the glycaemic responses to solid foods (i.e. Jasmine rice and Basmati rice) among various Asian ethnic groups,”​ the paper states.

"Further to this, we found that gender of the participants did not affect GI and GR to the test beverages. It appears that the nutrient composition of the test beverages (e.g. type and relative amount of protein and carbohydrate as well as dietary fibre and the type of starch), rather than the ethnicity or gender of the participants, plays an important role in determining glycaemic responses.”

The researchers concluded that future studies should examine whether this finding can be generalised to other foods and also whether the finding derived from healthy Southeast Asians can be extrapolated to other Asian populations.

Source: European Journal of Nutrition

December 2016, Volume 55, Issue 8​, pp 2493–2498

Glycaemic responses to liquid food supplements among three Asian ethnic groups”

Author: Siew Ling Tey, et al.

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