High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) consumption is at a 20-year low with more than half of Americans believing corn sugar poses health risks. Consumers have become label-savvy when it comes to picking out HFCS on an ingredient list and companies including Gatorade, Sara Lee, Hunt’s ketchup, and Thomas English muffins have publicly removed HFCS from their ingredients.
HFCS has been around for decades and is the cheapest and most shelf-stable form of sugar on the market. HFCS is made by changing the glucose in cornstarch to fructose (a sugar naturally found in fruits) and the result is a combination of glucose and fructose, just like sugar. HFCS comprises just over half of the added sugars in our food supply but American’s consumption of sugar is up 50% from the 1970’s. It’s clear what’s really the problem, no?
Sweet Surprise is a multi-million dollar campaign put out by the Corn Refiners Association who have aired new commercials refuting any difference between corn sugar and cane sugar. That video can be viewed on the right side of the page.
A few other commercials have been put out by Sweet Surprise, and it’s definitely worth taking a few seconds to view them.
The Corn Refiners Association is petitioning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to have the name high fructose corn syrup changed to corn sugar. This is a potentially brilliant endeavor. When low erucic acid rapeseed oil was renamed canola oil, sales went up. Nothing about the product changed other than its name, and consumers bought it. Pun intended 😉
The difference in fructose/glucose composition of HFCS compared to sugar is negligible and to date there is no resolute data supporting the dangers of HFCS over sugar on “weight hormones” such as leptin, ghrelin, and insulin. Some rat studies have shown that HFCS promotes obesity more so than other sugars, but other studies have negated the very same claims. Basically, there are no definitive answers in the science world…yet.
It seems as though consumers want an “all-natural” sugar that offers sound nutrition and is “healthy” in abundance. Bottom line: sugar is sugar and should be used in moderation. Unlike the Sweet Surprise videos portrait, moderation is NOT in the form of Kool-Aid and sugary breakfast cereals…there are much better alternative out there. And whether Starbucks baked goods are made with HFCS or cane sugar, they will contain the same number of calories and have identical nutrition stats. Americans simply need to get down to business and limit ALL sugars and processed foods.
I would urge consumers to not get caught up in the gimmicks surrounding such issues. Why not assess labels for the lowest sugar content (grams per serving) rather than purchasing a high sugar product just because it contains sugar and not HFCS?
Is HFCS safe? I think so.
Is it the most “natural” sugar available? Nope.
Is HFCS over-used? I think so.
Is HFCS to blame for America’s obesity epidemic? I don’t think so.
I think this debate is very interesting, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Question: Do you think HFCS is worse than sugar? Do you avoid HFCS? Why or why not?
Credible, wonderful sources:
Journal of Nutrition, Misconceptions about high-fructose corn syrup… American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, High-fructose corn syrup, energy intake, and appetite regulation
P.S. Thanks, Kerstin for such a wonderful topic request!! 😀
Down with too much sugar,