Bad press over health concerns has affected sales for the corn syrup industry and as a result the Associated Press reported today that corn syrup producers want to “sweeten up its image with a new name: corn sugar.” The article explained:
The bid to rename the sweetener by the Corn Refiners Association comes as Americans’ concerns about health and obesity have sent consumption of high fructose corn syrup, used in soft drinks but also in bread, cereal and other foods, to a 20-year low.
The article goes out of its way to include statements of the safety of high fructose corn syrup, claiming the only known negative health effect is obesity.
But sugar and high fructose corn syrup are nutritionally the same, and there’s no evidence that the sweetener is any worse for the body than sugar, said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The bottom line is people should consume less of all sugars, Jacobson said.
“Soda pop sweetened with sugar is every bit as conducive to obesity as soda pop sweetened with high fructose corn syrup,” he said.
The American Medical Association says there’s not enough evidence yet to restrict the use of high fructose corn syrup, although it wants more research.
This claim about obesity has already been disproved by a recent Princeton University study:
“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, ” researcher Bart Hoebel said.
Hoebel and colleagues fed two groups of rats an identical diet, supplemented with one of two sweetened beverages. One beverage consisted of a sucrose solution in concentrations similar to those found in many sweetened beverages. The other consisted of a high-fructose corn syrup solution at roughly half the concentration of a typical soda. The researchers found that the rats consuming the corn syrup solution gained significantly more weight than the rats consuming the sucrose solution.
Additionally, a study reported by Reuters just last month exposed that cancer cells “slurp” up high fructose corn syrup and use the syrup to “divide and proliferate.”
Pancreatic tumor cells use fructose to divide and proliferate, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a study that challenges the common wisdom that all sugars are the same.
Tumor cells fed both glucose and fructose used the two sugars in two different ways, the team at the University of California Los Angeles found.
This study and others have led natural health professionals like Dr. Joseph Mercola to label high fructose corn syrup “cancer’s favorite food.” The message is getting so loud now that the AP article mentions that Michelle Obama refuses to allow her children to consume products with corn syrup.
Nearly every processed food now contains HFCS. However, many beverage companies have already started making and promoting “new” drinks made with real sugar, a move that has been driven by consumer demand based on growing awareness over the negative health effects. Perhaps the corn syrup industry believes the public is so dumbed down that simply changing the name will erase the health concerns.