Sugar vs. Corn Syrup: Which Is Making You Fat?

Health Check 11

 

woman's feet on a scaleYou know what really galls me? When I go to pick up an item at the grocery store that looks downright delish, turn it around to look at the ingredients, and lo and behold -- there it is, that bugger! Whether it's labeled as high fructose corn syrup, just corn syrup, or some other suspicious moniker, I figure it's all the same -- none of it belongs in my body. Unless I totally want to sabotage my effort to steer clear of obesity.

Funny enough, the sugar industry and I are on the same page. They're currently in court with corn syrup makers, taking them to task for asserting that their product is "nutritionally the same" as sugar. There's plenty of research to prove that untrue.

Science has shown that HFCS, unlike regular ol' sugar, actually boosts our fat-storing hormones. Awesome. In a University of Florida study, HFCS directly caused leptin resistance in rats. Additional research found that fructose doesn't suppress hunger hormone ghrelin levels the way table sugar does. What's more, as Jillian Michaels writes in her book, Master Your Metabolism, HFCS also increases trigylcerides, and high trigylcerides prevent leptin from working in the brain, so it can't tell you to stop overeating. Gah!

Now, consider that the average consumption of refined sugar has dwindled in the past 40 years, but our consumption of HFCS has shot up almost twenty-fold. Definitely seems to match up with the sugar industry holds that obesity and diabetes are linked to HFCS's popularity.

All of this said, it's crazy to think that the sugar folks aren't going to completely whip the corn syrup guys in court. They're entitled to keep making their product, sure, but selling it to the public as the same thing as sugar? No way -- from what I can tell, that just doesn't pass muster.

Are you okay with consuming HFCS? Do you believe it has a different effect on the body than sugar?


eating habits, eating healthy, diets, weight loss

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Kritika Kritika

Everything in moderation. The only way you're gonna eat that stuff is if you're eating a lot of processed foods which you shouldn't eat for a variety of reasons.

LDurk LDurk


Seriously? "Which is making you fat?" It sounds like someone knows a sugar lobbyist.  Let's try an experiment. Add 1000 calories a day to the diets of three people - one person gets 1000 calories from added cane sugar, one strictly of added corn sugar, and one strictly of unsweetened fruit juice. And who's going to gain weight? All of them.


Nothing that is non-nutritive is good in excess. Nothing. If you're going to consume any sugar, regardless of it's origin, it should be done in moderation.


nonmember avatar Kristi

My problem with HFCS is it's in everything. No we don't eat a lot of processed stuff, but we do sometimes buy juice, which is hard to find without HFCS. Condiments have it in them. I bought some crackers (triscuits but off brand) and they had HFCS in them! Sure, I could make my own juice and crackers and everything else at home, but some people just don't have time to make every single thing they eat from scratch!

nonmember avatar Mary S.

Both are equally bad. The worst part is that they are in everything! ANyone interested in this topic should watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

To clarify a couple of things in this article, high fructose corn syrup is not the same as fructose, and HFCS is very different from corn syrup. Chemically speaking, HFCS and sugar are very similar. Sugar is 50% fructose and 50% glucose, and HFCS is either 42 or 55% fructose, and the rest glucose. I am very happy that the issue of added sugar is being raised though!

nonmember avatar Cheryl

Medical studies (JAMA) also show that fructose causes you to gain weight primarily in your belly while glucose causes you to gain weight all over. The weight gains are comparable but the results are not the same at all.

PonyC... PonyChaser

I did a personal experiment once. I am a child of the '80s, and used to LOVE Mountain Dew. It was a treat and I didn't have it much, but when I did have a soda, Dew was my choice. During college, I didn't drink it much, switching to Pepsi and Coke, because that's what was available. But once I got on my own, I found Dew again. And I started drinking it again.


Then a couple years ago, PepsiCo started coming out with the Throwback line. HERE was the Dew of my childhood, and I absolutely adored it. Now, I was a 6-pack a day girl, at least; when I drank "modern" Dew, it was one can after another. I didn't even think of it when I bought a case of Throwback, instead, because it just tasted better. But I discovered something....


I didn't "need" a second can of Dew anymore. One was enough to satisfy. I went from 6-8 cans a day down to 1 almost overnight. Why? I can only say that it was the HFCS. Out of curiosity, I bought a case of Modern Dew. And drank it like crazy. I would pound can after can. Bought Throwback, and was satisfied with one. Again.


I'm completely off of it now, but that anecdotal evidence is all I need to believe that HFCS is FAR more addicting than regular sugar, and I make every effort to avoid it.

suziejax suziejax

both r bad for you

nonmember avatar Stasha Kucel RD



Hi all!



As a registered dietitian and a consultant to the corn refiners, I get asked about this topic a lot! Just the other day I was talking with a patient about how the body can't tell the difference between HFCS and table sugar. BOTH high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are about half glucose and half fructose. I think people forget that table sugar (sucrose) is also half fructose. HFCS just happens to have a name that makes people think its extremely high in fructose. Truth be told, agave nectar is almost all fructose and most people don't realize this. By the way, corn syrup is all glucose. 

StashaRD StashaRD



Hi all!



As a registered dietitian and a consultant to the corn refiners, I get asked about this topic a lot! Just the other day I was talking with a patient about how the body can't tell the difference between HFCS and table sugar. BOTH high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are about half glucose and half fructose. I think people forget that table sugar (sucrose) is also half fructose. HFCS just happens to have a name that makes people think its extremely high in fructose. Truth be told, agave nectar is almost all fructose and most people don't realize this. By the way, corn syrup is all glucose. 



Most studies compare PURE FRUCTOSE to table sugar (sucrose). And then folks apply the fructose data to HFCS. Its important to realize HFCS and fructose are not the same thing. 



Stasha Kucel MS, RD, LD

StashaRD StashaRD

The University of Florida study that you cite is about fructose inducing leptin resistance. Not high fructose corn syrup. Table sugar is about half fructose too! So eating all sugars in moderation is important. In this study, http://jn.nutrition.org/content/139/6/1242S.abstract, the data reveals that HFCS is metabolized in the body similar to sucrose and other sweeteners.



The second study that you mention (http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/89/6/2963.long) looks at free fructose and the amount given to the women is extremely large. Consuming that much fructose by itself, about 600 calories worth in a day, and not combined with glucose or other nutrients, is not common. Here is a journal article that looks more accurately at the comparison of high-fructose corn syrup vs sucrose and its effect on the body---> http://www.ajcn.org/content/88/6/1738S.abstract.



Your point of view is a common error that many people make...thinking that fructose is only in HFCS and not other sugars. Both HFCS and sucrose are about 50% glucose and 50% fructose. 



Thanks!

Stasha Kucel MS, RD, LD

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