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is high fructose corn syrup really no worse than other sugars?


“So what does the science say? While media and blog headlines have slammed high fructose corn syrup, scientists and experts have been evaluating the controversy and coming to different conclusions. Their view? Research shows HFCS, sugar and other sweeteners are basically the same from a health perspective.”  From Sweet Surprise — the website of the CRA (Corn Refiners Association).

“The use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has increased over the past several decades in the United States, while overweight and obesity rates have risen dramatically…..  The Center for Food, Nutrition, and Agriculture Policy convened an expert panel to discuss the published scientific literature examining the relationship between consumption of HFCS or “soft drinks” (proxy for HFCS) and weight gain…… The fructose:glucose (F:G) ratio in the U.S. food supply has not appreciably changed since the introduction of HFCS in the 1960s…..   Based on the currently available evidence, the expert panel concluded that HFCS does not appear to contribute to overweight and obesity any differently than do other energy sources.”   From a 2007 issue of the medical journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition (A Critical Examination of the Evidence Relating High Fructose Corn Syrup and Weight Gain).

“The hypothesis that the replacement of sucrose with HFCS in beverages plays a causative role in obesity is not supported on the basis of its composition, biological actions or short-term effects on food intake. Had the hypothesis been phrased in the converse, namely that replacing HFCS with sucrose in beverages would be a solution to the obesity epidemic, its merit would have been seen more clearly.”  Taken from a 2013 issue of the International Journal of Obesity (Lack of Evidence for High Fructose Corn Syrup as the Cause of the Obesity Epidemic).

“A study released last week by researchers from the University of Southern California and Oxford University claiming to find a unique link between high fructose corn syrup and Type 2 diabetes is flawed both in its design and conclusions.”  Taken from the website of the National Corn Growers Association (CRA Calls for Caution in Consideration of Flawed Study Alleging HFCS-Diabetes Link).

We are not aware of any evidence, including the studies mentioned above, that there is a difference in safety between foods containing HFCS 42 or HFCS 55 and foods containing similar amounts of other nutritive sweeteners with approximately equal glucose and fructose content, such as sucrose, honey, or other traditional sweeteners.  From the website of the FDA (High Fructose Corn Syrup: Questions and Answers)

We are being bombarded by articles (some of them “scientific”) and TV commercials telling us that HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) is not nearly as bad as we have been led to believe, is no different than other kinds of “natural” sugars, and cannot be linked to health issues such as OBESITY or DIABETES any more than can any other type of sugar.  In fact, numerous organizations have gone on a similar offensive to what we saw with margarine back when I was a kid —- they marketed it as better for the heart because it came from a “heart-healthy” vegetable (corn / corn oil), and not an evil animal fat like real butter.  The only problem is that corn is not a vegetable but a grain, and margarine is mostly TRANS FAT.  Furthermore, we have learned that animal fat isn’t the problem we were once led to believe it is (HERE).

Because several of the studies quoted from above use the word “Evidence” (two actually have the word in the title of their studies), it makes me wonder what the evidence really says when it comes to HFCS.  Hopefully by now we all realize that “Science” is whatever the highest bidder says it is.  For instance, the third quote above revealed that of the study’s four authors, there were financial COI (Conflicts of Interest) with ConAgra, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Weight Watchers, and the Corn Refiners Association.  In fact, one of the authors was a member of the CRA’s Scientific Advisory Panel, another was an “adviser” for ConAgra, while yet another got a number of his research grants from these or similar companies.  In fact, the lead author of this study lists PepsiCo as a partner right on his flippin “health-related” website (Rippe Lifestyle Institute).  Such is the nature of EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE — “Evidence” is whatever the person with the most money says it is.

My goal today is to look at what some of the studies on HFCS actually say.  Let’s find out who’s right in this argument — people like DR. ROBERT LUSTIG or Big Corporations / Big Government.  Before we do this, I want to take a few seconds to point out to you why it matters.  If you slowly scroll through my numerous posts on BLOOD SUGAR, you will begin to notice that Blood Sugar Dysregulation or high sugar consumption is being associated with almost every health problem imaginable, including virtually all of the AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES and CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY DEGENERATIVE DISEASES (you can click either link for lists). 

I honestly thought about trying to create my own “Super Page” on High Fructose Corn Syrup, but after looking at how much research there is on the topic (none of it good), I decided to leave you a few links to others who have at least to some degree, done the job for me. 

  • LIFE EXTENSION’S 2008 report on HFCS by Dana Flavin, MS, MD, PHD (Metabolic Danger of High-Fructose Corn Syrup). 

There are hundreds of similar articles I could have included (just go to PubMed).  HFCS is so ubiquitous to our society that it is extremely difficult to avoid — it’s in just about everything.  Just realize that despite most of what you are being told by the corn industry, who is heavily funded by our government in the form of subsidies, is not true.  Fructose — particularly in the massive amounts seen in HFCS — is metabolized differently in your body than glucose or other sugars.   I want to leave you with a quote from Dr. Andrew Siegel (Urologist / Surgeon / Author / Professor) from his wishfully-named website The Ban of HFCS in the U.S.

“Importantly, fructose is metabolized very differently from glucose.  Every cell in our bodies can metabolize glucose, but it is primarily the liver that metabolizes fructose. Fructose does not stimulate insulin release as does glucose, nor does it stimulate leptin (our satiety hormone).  Fructose, more readily than glucose, replenishes liver glycogen, and once the liver is saturated with glycogen, triglycerides (fats) are made and stored. So, too much HFCS and we end up with a fatty liver…and body!   The bottom line is that HFCS ingestion pushes our metabolism towards fat production and fat storage, potentially leading to obesity, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.”


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