High Fructose Corn Syrup is Not Sugar, says FDA
Sugar is sugar. So says the Corn Refiners Association. You’ve seen the commercials. Those that imply that corn syrup in moderation is fine. It’s made from corn. It’s natural, right? But is it sugar and is it healthy? Confused yet? You should be. The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) launched a multi-million dollar campaign in 2008, trying to convince us that “sugar is sugar.” But the FDA asked them to modify their campaign to better reflect what they already knew: it’s high fructose corn syrup, not just sugar. And, after nearly two years of reviewing the CRA’s request to use the term “corn sugar” instead of high fructose corn syrup in their marketing, the” FDA held their ground with a big fat “No.“
And they should, at least according to two studies conducted at Princeton University in late 2010. In one study, rats were given their standard diet and water sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Another group was given their standard diet and table sugar (sucrose). The high fructose corn syrup doses were half the amount in typical soda pop drinks. Though those given sucrose downed sugar doses matching those in soda pop, the rats given the high fructose corn syrup gained much more weight.
In a second study, researchers measured the rats’ weights and triglyceride and body fat levels over six months. Those fed high fructose corn syrup gained 48 percent more weight than those on a standard diet, and their symptoms resembled those of Americans with metabolic syndrome. Their triglyceride levels soared and they gained large fat deposits, especially around their stomachs.
“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,” said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in sugar addiction. “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.”
Sucrose and high fructose corn syrup differ in two ways. First, their composition. Equal amounts of glucose and fructose comprise sucrose, or table sugar. High fructose corn syrup holds 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose. Larger sugar molecules make up the rest. Second, sucrose contains bound glucose and fructose molecules that require more steps to break them down. High fructose corn syrup molecules, by way of their processing, remain free and unbound, ready for quick absorption.
We have known that high glucose corn syrup has expanded waistlines, and recent studies show it dulls the brain and scars the liver. But it’s become a staple in many people’s standard diet, and obesity is raging. Rates of obesity have doubled since the inception of corn syrup as a cost-effective sweetener in 1970. Sugar has been around long before that.
So sorry, Corn Refiners Associatioin. You get an “A” for effort, creativity and persistence.
But corn syrup just isn’t sugar.