High Fructose Corn Syrup Vindicated by – No Surprise – its Peddlers

A clever marketing campaign by industry backed Center for Consumer Freedom is trying to free high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) of its bum rap. Parents, dieters and health industry professionals have been “brainwashed” to think that HFCS is the cause of America’s obesity epidemic. Not so, says the group who hides the list of its funders. In newspapers, on TV, and on the web, HFCS is now “exonerated” from being the cause of obesity, by lack of evidence.

The campaign is part of a broader effort by the industry to ward off any limitations on their ability to sell us more and more junk food and “liquid calories” in the form of soda pop. Such efforts include increasing calls to tax sugary soft drinks and totally remove them from schools.

What you need to know:

High Fructose Corn Syrup is very similar to table sugar in its chemical properties and in the way it is absorbed by the body. So gram per gram they will have the same effect on you as sugar does.

The problem lies not in the syrup itself, but in how cheap it has become to manufacture a slough of sweetened snacks and drinks compared to the past.

A bit of historical perspective: Farmers have been receiving subsidies from the US government to grow corn for years. They have become so good at it that they began to create huge surpluses, even after selling corn to the entire world AND switching livestock feed from grass to corn.

What to do with all the excess corn?

Some smart dudes discovered about 30 years ago that through a chemical process, the sugars in corn could be separated from its other parts and be synthesized into a liquid syrup. Introducing HFCS. The beauty – gram for gram it costs half the price of sugar to produce. Woohoo!

Manufacturers started dumping HFCS into sodas, snacks, pasta sauces, and as many products as possible because (a) it made them taste good (b) they shaved a few dimes off their costs.

The early 1980′s are considered the time that obesity started to take off in this country. And that’s exactly when HFCS was unleashed into supermarkets.

And the rest is history.

What to do at the supermarket:

Try to avoid any food that has too much sweet in it. Humans are not supposed to consume so much sugar. Look for sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and a host of other synonyms on the ingredient list. In many cases, sugar is scattered in several places along the list.

A good summary of the total sugar content in the product is in the nutrition facts panel. Remember – every 4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon.

To play it safe, there are certain aisles just worth avoiding at the supermarket – snacks and beverages. You’ll save your health and a lot of money by just resisting the temptation to walk down those HFCS laden alleys.

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  • http://www.betterschoolfood.org Dr. Susan Rubin

    Thanks for pointing this new one out! There is enough shady stuff like this out there that you could easily start a new blog called “follow the money”. It would be easy to find at least one outrageous example every day to keep readers on their toes.

    I receive a package in the mail from the Corn Refiners Association whenever I’m quoted in the media saying anything bad about HFCS. Those corn folks have big bucks and long tentacles!

    HFCS is one of the top 10 hazardous ingredients that you’ll never find in my house!
    http://drsusanrubin.blogspot.com/2009/09/top-ten-hazardous-ingredients-you-wont.html

  • http://www.mountainskysoap.com/vidoe.php Nina George

    Corn is not only used in cheap food it is also put in a lot of new ‘natural’ soaps as an ingredient called decyl glucoside. It won’t make you fat but the processing of corn into soaps creates another problem. More processing requires heat, chemicals and overuse of water to breakdown the corn product and isolate the surfactant.

    I have uploaded a video called ” Are You Washing With Corn?”- http://www.mountainskysoap.com/video.php

    I like eating corn on the cob.

  • http://www.rebeccascritchfield.wordpress.com rebecca scritchfield

    Your comments about sugars in foods in general are spot on. As a nutrition expert, I appreciate the accuracy there. I recommend fruits and lowfat milk as the best sources of sugars – and all other sugars in moderation. People will give things like sweetened yogurt a health halo not realizing that there is a lot of sugar in a small serving. All the little sweet things here and there can easily add up. I don’t think people need to go to the extremes of banning all foods with sugar or processed foods with some sugar and I don’t think that is realistic for a majority of people either. But they should be aware about sugar, especially in things like cereals and oatmeal, which could be considered nourishing but with too much sugar is more of a “health don’t”. As far as sugar in sweetened beverages, candy and desserts… if people think it is a health food then they have a bigger problem than looming obesity. Those are “sometimes” treats. A two-dessert-a-day habit will catch up to anyone.