The association between carbohydrate quality and nutrient adequacy in Australian adults



To examine the association between various carbohydrate quality indicators and nutrient adequacy in Australian adults.


Dietary data from adult participants of the 2011–2012 Australian Health Survey (weighted n = 6150) who had completed two 24 h recalls were analyzed. Glycaemic indices (GI) of foods were estimated based on a published method. Quartiles of dietary GI (dGI) and glycaemic load (dGL), and intakes of high (CHOhighGI) and low-GI carbohydrates (CHOlowGI) were derived. Estimated marginal means and standard errors of nutrient and food group intakes by quartiles were calculated using ANCOVA. Odds ratios of not meeting the nutrient reference values for Australia and New Zealand (NRVs) by quartiles of the carbohydrate quality indicators were calculated by logistic regression. Analyses were adjusted for known confounders.


Participants with higher CHOhighGI had lower intakes of the majority of nutrients examined, except sodium and %energy from free sugars. They were also more than 100% more likely to not meet the NRVs of vitamin A (2.19, 95% CI 1.89, 2.84), vitamin C (3.93, 95% CI: 1.61, 9.60), vitamin E (2.63, 95% CI: 2.08, 3.31), iron (2.27, 95% CI: 1.48, 3.49), magnesium (2.50, 95% CI: 2.01, 3.12), potassium (2.25, 95% CI: 1.79, 2.83), %EFS (2.74, 95% CI: 2.22, 3.38), and LCn3PUFA (2.35, 95% CI: 1.76, 3.16). Similar results were observed for dGI and dGL, while trends for CHOlowGI were in opposite direction in general.


Of the carbohydrate quality indicators examined, CHOhighGI was the strongest predictor of nutrient adequacy. Improvement in nutrient adequacy likely contributed to the health protective effect of a low-GI diet.

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Fig. 1: Flow of participants.


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The authors would like to acknowledge The Glycemic Index Foundation for providing the special edition of AUSNUT2011–2013 database for use in this study. The original data of the Australian Health Survey 2011–2012 were collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The authors declare that those who carried out the original analysis and collection of the data bear no responsibility for further analysis or interpretation included in the paper.


This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

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DKYK—statistical analysis and drafting of paper. JCYL—designed and supervised the study, and subsequent editing of the final paper. Both authors read and approved the final paper. JCYL has primary responsibility of the content presented in this paper.

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Correspondence to Jimmy Chun Yu Louie.

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Kwan, D.K.Y., Louie, J.C.Y. The association between carbohydrate quality and nutrient adequacy in Australian adults. Eur J Clin Nutr 74, 1594–1602 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-020-0620-9

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