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Good carb, bad carb? Experts debate.

Macaroni faster than spaghetti? A greenish banana faster than a freckled one? Yes, say some of the top-tier nutritional experts.They are convinced that carbohydrates should be labeled good or bad, just the way fats are.//

The debate involves an idea called the glycemic index. It is a way of rating how quickly carbohydrates are digested and rush into the bloodstream as sugar. Fast, in this case, is bad. In theory, a blast of sugar makes insulin levels go up, and this, strangely, leaves people quickly feeling hungry again.

Despite its detractors, the idea seems to be gaining momentum, in part because it is offered as scientific underpinning by the authors of a variety of popular diet schemes, mostly of the low-carb variety.

To believers, the glycemic index is a kind of nutritional Rosetta stone that explains much of what has gone wrong with the world's health and girth over the past two decades: Why diets so often fail. Why diabetes is becoming epidemic. Why mankind is growing so fat.

We overeat because we are hungry, the theory goes, and we are hungry because of what we have been told to eat, which is too much fast-burning food that plays havoc with metabolism by quickly raising blood sugar levels. All of that starch at the base of the food pyramid has had the unintended effect of making us ravenous.

"It's almost unethical to tell people to eat a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet with no regard to glycemic index," says Janette Brand-Miller of the University of Sydney, one of the field's pioneers.

Controversy weighs on subject
The idea has already entered the scientific mainstream in much of the world and is endorsed by the World Health Organization, but it remains deeply controversial in the United States. It is dismissed by some of the country's weightiest private health societies, including the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association.

The fact that carbohydrates bre
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