The diversity of the associations of dietary glycaemic index (GI) and glycaemic load (GL) with dietary intake and body fatness observed in epidemiological studies may be partly due to the differences in underlying dietary intake patterns. We examined the cross-sectional associations of dietary GI and GL with food and nutrient intakes and indices of body fatness in 818 children aged 4-10 years and 818 adolescents aged 11-18 years in Britain, based on the data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey. Dietary intake was assessed using a 7 d weighed dietary record. Overweight was defined as BMI ≥ 85th percentile of the age- and sex-specific British growth reference data. Central obesity was defined as waist:height ratio (WHtR) ≥ 0·5 (adolescents only). Breads, breakfast cereals and potatoes were the positive predictive food groups for dietary GI, while dairy products, fruit juice, other cereals and fruit were the negative predictors. Dietary GL was closely correlated with carbohydrate intake. Dietary GI showed no associations with overweight or central obesity. Conversely, dietary GL showed an independent association with a higher risk of overweight in children and a higher risk of central obesity (but not overweight) in adolescents. However, dietary GI and GL were not associated with BMI z-score in children and adolescents or WHtR in adolescents. In conclusion, the present study showed that dietary GL was independently associated with overweight in children and with central obesity in adolescents. Nevertheless, given no associations when body fatness measures were treated as continuous variables, the results must be interpreted cautiously.