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March 25, 2010

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

Posted by Kelly Brewington at 12:59 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Diet and exercise


Blood fructose is not regulated by insulin/glucagon as is glucose. Thus fructose can rise to a higher titer and diffuse rapidly into the tissue. Quick energy jolt, and a hormone boost from the adrenals and be stimulating. For reasons unknown to me fructose consumption is associated with development of type II diabetes. Of course type II diabetes is caused by obesity and it is easy to link fructose sugar to obesity.

All I know is I am a diabetic and I have cirrhosis, my doctor says caused by my long standing diabetes. When Castro took over in Cuba, we placed an embargo on them. This meant that formerly cheap sugar now cost much more, soft drink companies and others substituted high fructose corn syrup instead.
Most of you are too young to remember, but us old timers remember when Coke (for example) tasted much better than it does now, this is because today's Coke is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, not pure cane sugar! Anything that changes the taste of something like a Coke, can't be good for you! Ask any old timer about how Coke used to taste, if you want to find out for yourself, go to Sam's Club and buy some "MEXICAN COKE". They did not embargo Cuba.

I Have Known THIS... FOR YEARS <<

The authors address an interesting and important area of study, but I believe this study like many others in rats investigating other substrates should be interpreted with caution. The study does not meet some basic quality standards. The first is there is no information on initial body weight – or any important aspect of equality initially. Second, the animals consume HFCS and sucrose and so obliged via caloric compensation mechanism to consume less of other nutrients to achieve similar metabolisable energy intakes. De-restrain on fat deposition could have occurred due to lower dietary fibre intake from the lower intake of the regular chow. Further, to an extent that the sugars would have diluted protein intake too; this could restrict growth of lean body weight some, which then costs the animals less leaving the animals more energy to put down as body fat. It is likely also that equality of caloric intake is somewhat of an artefact of the metabolisable energy system. Replacing protein and fibre and even fat on an equal metabolisable calorie basis with an available carbohydrate would not lead to equality of intake of biologically useful energy, or net metabolisable energy (NME). This is because high fructose corn syrup and sucrose (like starch) are available carbohydrates and so both are more calorically dense on the NME system than the dietary fibre and protein they replace in the rodent chow. Any fat replaced by the sugars would be used with similar though not quite identical efficiency as NME. These types of experiments are far more difficult to do than researchers imagine, and require appropriate modelling of the inputs and outputs using data not reported in this study such as initial and final fat mass and lean mass, and costs of depositing these masses. The reference list also omits that studies in humans show fructose at realistic intakes has no impact on body weight when replacing another carbohydrate. The discussion is not, therefore, based on a systematic view of the evidence base.

The findings from this study may or may not prove to be true, however all I know is that I've avoided HFCS religiously for almost 3 years and I've experienced a myriad of health improvements!

First, my seasonal allergies have all but disappeared(and whenever I slip-up and eat something with HFCS, I become congested for a few days)... also, my blood triglyceride levels are minimal. Lastly, I've lost about 11% bodyfat.

The way I look at it, our bodies were created to handle naturally occurring sugars... and HFCS is NOT naturally occurring. While doctors and scientists like to pretend they know how certain substances affect the body, they really don't. It's my opinion that our bodies aren't sure how to handle HFCS as it's not naturally occurring, so our bodies respond by storing it as fat as well as possibly throwing our bodies' chemical makeup out of balance. Thus I avoid it all together.

While fructose is a naturally occurring sugar, in nature it's usually paired with fiber. Products with HFCS rarely contain much fiber. Just something to note.

This study may have not met all the "basic quality standards", however it's probably good info nonetheless.

There is a key link that is missing here. Corn has an omega 6 and 3 (EFA's essential fatty acids) ratio of 46-1. The human body needs approx 3-1 ratio. Look up the endocannabinoid system and obesity. There was an obesity drug developed called Rimonabant that has since been removed by the FDA. This was the first drug designed to work on this system.

The western diet has an omega (EFA) balance that is totally off balance. This is a reasonable explanation for same calorie sugars having differing results. Google endocannabinoid system and obesity. Then investigate the omega balance and the western diet.

Learn and educate.

I think the problem is much bigger than everyone realizes. I believe the overuse of corn is causing corn allergies. My son and I are both allergic to corn and it took years to figure it out. I started a web site Corn Allergy Symptoms to help people learn more about it so they won't have to suffer like we did.

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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