New Name for High-Fructose Corn Syrup

This story would be funny to me if it weren’t so sad. Even those nutritionists that I normally take issue with, such as Marion Nestle of NYU, even had to scratch her head at this one. Rather than be called “high fructose corn syrup”, they just want to be called “corn syrup.” They feel as though it’s “confusing” for the consumer especially because people have begun to associate HFCS with being unhealthy. Well, there’s a very good reason for that: IT IS UNHEALTHY. According to the market research firm NPD Group, about 58 percent of Americans say they are concerned that high-fructose corn syrup poses a health risk.

Some scientists over the years have speculated that high-fructose corn syrup may contribute to obesity by somehow disrupting normal metabolic function, but the research has been inconclusive. As a result, most leading scientists and nutrition experts agree that in terms of health, the effect of high-fructose corn syrup is the same as regular sugar, and that too much of either ingredient is bad for your health.

The research has not been ambiguous as far as sugar is concerned. It’s very clear as to what happens to blood sugar and insulin in the face of high sugar consumption. As long as people are able to keep their consumption very low, sugar and HFCS might not be so terrible. However, HFCS is a favorite of food makers for practical reasons. Compared with sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup doesn’t mask flavors, has a lower freezing point and retains moisture better, which is useful in making foods like chewy granola bars. And because the corn crop in the United States is heavily subsidized, high-fructose corn syrup is also cheap. As a result, it’s now used in so many foods, from crackers to soft drinks, that it has become one of the biggest sources of calories in the American diet.

Just walk down the aisle of any supermarket and you may be surprised at how many foods contain HFCS. Even foods were you wouldn’t expect to find sugar, such as baked goods and other foods which people consider to be healthy and low in calories. When the majority of the foods in the diet contain sugar or HFCS, it’s easy to see why these ingredients get such a bad wrap. Let’s not even talk about their presence in drinks. This is where the majority of our “sweet” calories come from. The makers of corn syrups are wise to want to hitch their wagons to the sugar consortium because it’s very powerful and always manages to sidestep attacks on their product. But scientists know how harmful sugar can be but they are unable to express it due to the fact that those who support sugar also pay the salaries of many in academia and medicine.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has six months to respond to the name-change petition. If the agency accepts it, the decision on whether to allow the name “corn sugar” on food labels may take another 12 to 18 months.

I’m not going to ask you to go complain to the FDA or anything like that, but you definitely want to watch out for any name changes so you can spot it in your foods and control yours and your family’s intake. It’s difficult to avoid or have it “in moderation” (I hate that phrase) if one is unaware of how much is present in the foods they eat.

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Posted on September 14, 2010 at 5:08 pm by Charles · Permalink
In: Diet, Disease, Insulin, Obesity, Sugar, Tweet

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