In spite of those commercials unleashed by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) stating that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is really just like sugar and should be eaten in moderation, it isn't really just like sugar. In fact, it's not at all just like sugar in its chemistry as well as how it is processed in the body. But the CRA, a trade group consisting of companies like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, everyone's favorite mega-corps, or should I say mega-corpse, doesn't want you to believe that.
However, a recent study out of Princeton has shown that HFCS is not all that the CRA claims it to be. Rats given access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.
From the article:
In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.
"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 psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and 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. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight."
...rats on a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup showed characteristic signs of a dangerous condition known in humans as the metabolic syndrome, including abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly.
Male rats in particular ballooned in size: Animals with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained 48 percent more weight than those eating a normal diet.
So, is high fructose corn syrup dead? Well, PepsiCo is taking it out of Gatorade and some brands of Pepsi. Starting in May, Hunt's Ketchup will contain sugar, not HFCS. Kraft is removing it from their Wheat Thins and Snapple is HFCS free. The list of products with HFCS removed from them goes on and on.
The ax is falling slowly but, after this report, I think we'll see a lot more products touting the fact that they are HFCS free. What kind of impact do you think this will have on the obesity rates? Do you think it will matter much or do you think the obesity problem has more to do with eating habits and lack of exercise? Is it even rational to blame it all on HFCS?