There is some confusion about whether or not high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is sugar’s evil twin or a harmless alternative. A relatively recent HFCS television ad campaign by the farmer’s Corn Refiners Association infers the latter. In their commercials they insist that HFCS is harmless and not as fattening as people think. Is this true?
HFCS contains fructose instead of sucrose. Sucrose is what normal table sugar is composed of. HFCS is a very cheap alternative to sucrose sweetener that is in almost everything we buy.
The problem with fructose is that it can go undetected by insulin. Insulin is the body’s physiological way of regulating blood sugar levels. Fructose, instead, goes to the liver where it is processed. However, if too much fructose enters the liver, it cannot process it fast enough. As a result, fructose is converted to fat and sent into the bloodstream as triglycerides. This can drastically alter a person’s cholesterol and lipid profile, placing them at an increased risk for obesity and the complications associated with it.
For those who doubt the negative effects that HFCS has on the body, A research team at Princeton University demonstrated that lab rats given access to HFCS gained significantly more weight than those who were given normal sugar, even when the overall caloric intake of both of the subjects and control grouped remained the same. In addition, those rats given HFCS experienced greater increases in body fat in the abdominal area as well as increases in circulating fats (triglycerides). All of these are risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and stroke.
Obesity has become not just an epidemic in the US. While much of it may be due to an individual’s diet and lifestyle habits, some of it may also be due to factors that are out of their control. HFCS is the first ingredient in a majority of the foods sold in the US. It is hard to avoid eating foods without it.
It is clear that there is, indeed, a link between high fructose corn syrup and obesity. Studies have demonstrated this. Until the use of this substance is limited or prohibited, there will continue to be a rise in the morbidity and mortality rates associated with obesity.
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