High Fructose Corn Syrup and Obesity: Evidence is Mounting That It's Not "Just Sugar"

flickr: Photo by jonathunder
Those commercials about high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) make me crazy.

You know the ones -- a mom is pouring a fruity beverage and another mom says she doesn't let her kid drink it because it contains HFCS. The first mom says, "So, what's wrong with that?" The non-HFCS-drinking mom gets a really confused look on her face and basically says, "Duh ..."

Duh? Put me on that ad! I'd rattle off a gazillion reasons HFCS is bad for my kid, everyone else in my family -- and the environment.


The folks behind these Sweet Surprise ads (a.k.a. corn refiners) want us all to believe that nothing is wrong with a little HFCS. It's just sugar. It's just corn. Look, I've got nothing against sugar -- or corn. But saying that HFCS is "just corn" is like saying that wine is "just grapes." Is your kid drinking much of that?

In the ads I've seen, the "oh-so-wise mom" pushing HFCS gently explains to the "total moron mom" that HFCS "has the same calories as sugar, and is fine in moderation."

A new study puts the kibosh on that claim.

Researchers at Princeton University found that HFCS is not the same as sugar when it comes to weight gain. Rats who ate HFCS gained significantly more weight than rats who ate table sugar -- even when their caloric intake was the same. In addition, long-term consumption of HFCS also led to abnormal increases in body fat (especially in the belly) and an increase in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.

"Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests," said Bart Hoebel, Ph.D. "When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese -- every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight."

Today's corn refiners are yesterday's cigarette manufacturers, claiming (despite evidence to the contrary) that their product is good for their wallets you. How many years before the High-Fructose-Corn-Syrup-Made-My-Family-Obese lawsuits start? ("We didn't know," "They said it was like sugar.")

In the next few weeks, I'm sure Sweet Surprise will publish the results of a study refuting the one done at Princeton (which, by the way, was funded by the U.S. Health Service). No doubt the corn refiners' study will be funded by ... Sweet Surprise.

The corn refiners want us to believe that "high-fructose corn syrup is just sugar with a bad image problem." Poor high-fructose corn syrup.You're in for a sweet surprise yourself.

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