Dr. Corn Sugar and Mr. High Fructose Corn Syrup

It’s not Halloween, but somebody’s already putting on a mask. More precisely, some-THING. Goodbye High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Hello CORN SUGAR. Make no mistake, these are one and the same.

So why the name change?

The answer: Marketing, of course.

HFCS has been battered in the past few years by consumers concerned about its health effects and possible link to obesity. As a result, sales of the cheap sweetener – often found in soft drinks, snacks, condiments, bakery items, and whatnot – have been in a downward spiral. Ad campaigns last year did not help. Companies began switching back from HFCS to “real sugar” (Dr. Pepper, Sara Lee, and others) in response to consumer fears.

The Corn Refiners Association hopes that this name change (which may take several years to approve through the regulatory channels) will help turn the liquid sweetener’s fortunes around.

What you need to know:

HFCS is a processed product, manufactured from surplus corn, yielding a cheap replacement to table sugar. In the early 1980′s many food manufacturers started using it instead of sugar as a cost cutting measure. That’s about the same time obesity rates started to skyrocket in the US.

So is there a direct connection?

Most scientists agree that HFCS is no better and now worse than plain sugar. The big problem is that Americans consume way too much of both. Some math:

  • According to the USDA, every man woman and child in the US consumes approximately 40 pounds of sugar and 40 pounds of HFCS every year.
  • That works out to 25 tsp of added sweetener per day.
  • Which is 400 calories!

Whether you think HFCS is the devil or not, reducing your daily intake of all added sugars is a wise strategy for you and your family.

What to do at the supermarket:

We’ve added corn sugar to our list of sugar synonyms. When looking at product ingredient lists, watch out for any combination of these hiding in the list. Often times manufacturers divide the added sugar into several names so that it won’t appear as one of the first ingredients in the product.

Get Fooducated

  • Betsy Keller, MS, RD

    The case against “corn sugar” is grows sweeter……

    Ivy League Fat Rats
    In March 2010, A Princeton University research team published results from two animal studies demonstrating that rats fed water sweetened with “corn sugar” (in addition to their regular rat chow) gained significantly more weight than those rats who drank a solution of water and sucrose-table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same. In addition, the rats had an increase in triglycerides-circulating blood fats. Take note that the levels of “corn sugar” water the rats were drinking were well below the levels found in soda while the concentration of sucrose in the sugar water solution was the same as is found in some soft drinks.
    .
    The second experiment looked at the effects of “corn sugar”on obesity — monitored weight gain, body fat and triglyceride levels in rats with access to “corn sugar” over a period of six months. Compared to the rats eating only rat chow, rats on a diet rich in “corn sugar” showed typical signs of a deleterious condition known as the metabolic syndrome – abnormal weight gain, increases in blood triglycerides and a change in visceral fat deposition, especially more around the belly. Rats with access to “corn sugar” gained 48 percent more weight than those eating a normal diet. Male rats became even heavier.

    The researchers speculate that these rats became obese by drinking “corn sugar,” but not by drinking sucrose. The believe (and hope to prove)that excess fructose (corn sugar has more of it) is being metabolized to produce fat, while glucose is largely being processed for energy or stored as a carbohydrate, called glycogen, in the liver and muscles.

  • Jason

    You might want to reevaluate the advice that short, understandable ingredients are somehow better than those that aren’t. Imagine what people would be saying if dihydrogen monoxide suddenly started appearing on their ingredient lists.

  • Brooke

    @Jason

    Dihydrogen monoxide?!?! That sounds really scary – if it’s in my food, I want to know about it! Has it caused deaths? Does an excess amount consumed cause any type of morbidity? Please tell me more – I don’t think it should be allowed in my organic food.

  • Corey

    @Brooke

    dihydrogen monoxide:
    -Is a major component of Acid Rain.

    -In a gaseous state, can give you severe burns.

    -accidental inhalation can kill you.

    -It is a major cause of erosion.

    -It decreases effectivness of automobile breaks.

    -It has been found in tumors of cancer patients.

  • Brooke

    @Corey

    Oh my! How does the FDA let these types of things into our food supply?? This is worse than Silly Putty in our chicken nuggets. I’m writing my congressperson first thing tomorrow morning.

    BTW – do you think it would be possible to isolate dihydrogen monoxide from GMOs (clearly a major component) and add it to processed food? Yikes!

  • http://www.onefrugalfoodie.com Alisa

    My husband just told me about “corn sugar” yesterday. Not surprising. This is their second attempt this year at reinventing the name of HFCS! It is going to get to the point where people will just avoid anything with corn on the label … or labels altogether!

  • Anne

    Thank you for getting the word out.

  • http://www.livingitupcornfree.com kc

    @Alisa
    The problem is that corn usually isn’t listed on the label but it is in the food in ever increasing amounts in the form of polysyllabic food additives. Pretty much any ingredient on a food or medicine label that you can’t recognize or pronounce is already made from GMO corn. The only way to avoid GMO corn is to buy foods without a label (and sometimes even that doesn’t work – see corn waxed apples and bell peppers).

    This campaign is nothing new for food manufacturers. Did you know that when the label reads “sugar” it may already be sugar made from GMO beets? Haagen Dazs ice cream already contains GMO beet sugar even though it only lists “sugar” on the label. “Evaporated Cane Juice” is usually manufactured using GMO cornstarch (so that the final product contains undeclared GMO corn) and it is a popular sweetener found in organic foods simply because it sounds vaguely healthier than “sugar”. Food manufacturers have a vested interest in pulling the wool over the eyes of the consumer so don’t buy “manufactured” food.

    @Brooke
    Dihydrogen monoxide is water.

  • Mendy Heaps

    The “sugar games” continue…

  • http://electronicdrift.blogspot.com/ Paper Tiger

    I think this is just ridiculous. The corn industry knows that it cannot stand behind their product so they’re trying to dodge the issue. I hope this attempt at rebranding does not work!!

  • Brooke

    @kc

    Killjoy

  • Corey

    @Brooke

    good to see someone here still has a sense of humor… especially with how silly these arguments get sometimes, what with all the pseudo-science some people post… and ‘facts’ without citation…

  • Anne

    Check this out from Marian Nestle. Corn Sugar name is already taken. LOL

    http://www.theatlantic.com/food/archive/2010/09/sorry-corn-refiners-the-name-corn-sugar-is-already-taken/63269/

  • Dawn

    When a food label lists the ingredients,they are using a variety of names for all sugar/sweetner products. While if you look at the nutrition label (say for fats) you get a breakdown on the types. My suggestion for the FDA is use the same existing model and show sugar/sweetener in a manner that doesn’t require shoppers to consult with a reference source.

  • Lebo6

    I read the info provided by the health ranger. HFCS is harder for your body to process since it goes through your liver like alcohol. It damages the liver like alcohol.