2022 INDUCTEE David J.A. Jenkins, DM DPhil DSc Blood, Diabetes, Heart & Vessels

Born:

July 20, 1942

(London, England)

Education:

DSc, Merton College, Oxford University (1988)
DM, Oxford University (1976)
DPhil, Oxford University (1975)
BM BCh, Oxford University (1971)

Awards & Honours:

2020: Canadian Nutrition Society (CNS-SCN) Fellow Distinction

2019: Honourary Patron of Dietitians of Canada

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David Jenkins

His glycemic index has decreased the incidence of diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease mortality worldwide

David Jenkins

Invented the glycemic index to classify carbohydrates and their effects on blood glucose levels, associated with the incidence of diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular disease mortality

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” says an age-old adage. We now understand more than ever the vital importance of nutrition for health and well-being. Nutritional guidance can sometimes seem confusing and contradictory, but Dr. Jenkins and his associates have demonstrated that carbohydrate digestion rates have significant health benefits and more slowly digested low glycemic index carbohydrate foods are best. These findings together with his work on cholesterol lowering foods have stimulated research and influenced dietary guidelines for disease treatment worldwide. We encounter the glycemic index in every trip to the grocery store in Canada when we find products intended to support a low glycemic diet, designed to help reduce the incidence of diabetes, strokes, and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Jenkins’ work represents the triumph of diet as part of preventative health care. Among his many honours and appointments, Dr. Jenkins is a Professor in the Departments of Nutritional Sciences and of Medicine, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, a Scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, and Staff Physician at St. Michael’s Hospital.

Key Facts

The results of his 5-continent study of high glycemic diets in New England Journal of Medicine examined one of the largest and most geographically diverse populations, confirming that consumption of high amounts of poor-quality carbohydrates is an issue worldwide

Co-chaired International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium (ICQC), whose 27 members include academic scientists and representatives from 14 countries in Oceania, Asia, Europe and North America

Developed the Portfolio Diet, a therapeutic vegan diet emphasizing foods associated with cholesterol lowering, including viscous fibre, soy protein, plant sterols, and nuts

Professional timeline

Impact on lives today

The importance of nutrition as a determinant of health has long been recognized, but reliable empirical guides are a more recent achievement. Dr. Jenkins’ research into the health benefits of low glycemic carbohydrate foods led to the development of the Glycemic Index, which is now available to everyone on food packaging to help support low glycemic diets, helping to reduce the incidence of diabetes, strokes, and cardiovascular diseases, a major advance in preventative medicine worldwide.

David Jenkins

2022

  • Headshot of Dr. Jenkins

    David Jenkins inducted in the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

    Ottawa, Ontario

  • David Jenkins publishes “Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load, and Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality” in the New England Journal of Medicine

    Diabetes, Heart & Vessels, Digestion

    Of particular importance globally because previous large studies focused on high income Western countries with little information from non-Western countries with low or middle incomes, the study fills a significant gap and confirms that consumption of high amounts of poor-quality carbohydrates is an issue worldwide.

  • David Jenkins timeline achievement

    Receives the Health Research Foundation Medal of Honour for contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the health Science and/or the improvement of the therapeutics health care

    Since 1945, the Medal of Honour has recognized remarkable individuals whose research or contributions to public policies in Canada have achieved international recognition.

  • David Jenkins Timeline achievement image

    Awarded the Rundle-Lister Lectureship in Transformative Nutritional Medical Education based on outstanding contributions to the field of therapeutic nutrition research and translation of this work to clinical practice

  • Co-chairs International Carbohydrate Quality Consortium, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to summarizing and disseminating the science around dietary carbohydrate and health

    Its 27 members include academic scientists and representatives from not-for-profit organizations, spanning 14 countries in Oceania, Asia, Europe and North America

  • David Jenkins timeline image

    David Jenkins develops the Portfolio Diet, a therapeutic vegan diet emphasizing a portfolio of foods associated with the lowering of cholesterol

    Heart & Vessels, Digestion, Evidence-based Medicine & Clinical Trials

    This diet, including viscous fiber, soy protein, plant sterols, and nuts, is low in saturated fat and high in fibre. Researchers have found it has a comparable blood cholesterol effect to statin treatment.

  • David Jenkins is appointed the Canada Research Chair in Metabolism and Nutrition at the University of Toronto

    The Canada Research Chairs Program is central to a national strategy aimed at making Canada one of the world's top countries in research and development. It invests approximately $311 million per year to attract and retain a diverse group of world-class researchers, to reinforce academic research and training excellence in Canadian postsecondary institutions.

  • International Editor of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition

  • David Jenkins and colleagues introduce concept of glycemic index (GI)

    Blood, Diabetes, Diabetes

    With the goal of improving diets for people with diabetes, the "Glycemic index of foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange" ranks the impact of a variety of carbohydrates on blood glucose levels. This ranking system lays the groundwork for the research of many other scientists around the globe.

1981

David Jenkins has changed the way the world thinks about food and nutrition.