Is high-fructose corn syrup worse than sugar?
There's no doubt high-fructose corn syrup is everywhere -- added to processed foods, sodas and fruity drinks. It's even an ingredient in foods you wouldn't expect like a loaf of bread.
The cheap sweetener has gotten a lot of blame of late for the nation's obesity epidemic. But does it really make us fat? Is it worse than sugar?
A new study from Princeton researchers suggests yes on both accounts. The paper in the latest issue of the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior found that male rats who consumed high fructose corn syrup were more likely to gain weight than those who ate sugar -- even when the calories were the same.
The study explains while the compounds of HFCS and sugar are similar, they are not the same and the body metabolizes them differently. It's a subject of intense debate.
A 2004 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition speculated that HFCS is worse than sugar, but even the researchers behind it now say the sweetener and sugar are equally bad, according to this piece by The Sun's Laura Vozzella.
The new research has received some praise, but plenty of criticism from skeptics, who say the study demonizes the corn-based sweetener and the study is flawed. For instance, the study compares its findings to previous research in female rats that showed no increased weight gain when they were given the sweetener vs. sugar.
It's a debate likely to rage on. Again, check out Vozzella's story on the issue, in which HFCS haters called the substance "the devil" and defenders insist the sweetener is just like sugar. It's a great piece that lays out the history of how the corn-based sweetener got big with corn subsidies and how the backlash against it has evolved.
Baltimore Sun graphic