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Why the new study on high-fructose corn syrup and weight gain is flawed

By Nicci Micco, March 26, 2010 - 12:04pm

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Nicci asks: Do you avoid high-fructose corn syrup?

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My concern with all the studies that you typically see/hear about support the use of HFCS used by food companies in almost all their products. The thing that is missing from this article is the amount that is used in food, it is not just soda.
One really informative study was done by Dr. Robert H. Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California. You can access the entire series of lectures on youtube.
The concern that he brings forth has to do with the way your body processes any fructose, but especially HFCS.
Glucose is the form of energy we were designed to run on. Every cell in our bodies, every bacterium -- and in fact, every living thing on the Earth -- uses glucose for energy. Fructose is not the same molecule. Glucose is a 6-member ring, but fructose is a 5-member ring. Sucrose (table sugar) is 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose, and HFCS is 42-55 percent fructose. It doesn't sound like there is much difference between the two, but when you factor in the amount that is typically digested on a daily basis, the effect is enormous.
The way we digest fructose is similar to the way we digest alcohol, only without the buzz. The effect on the body includes all the classic symptoms of alcohol abuse, ie: beer belly, high triglycerides, high LDL levels, high blood pressure, weight gain.
My 16 year old daughter was diagnosed with metabolic disorder when she was very young and I firmly believe that is was due to poor food choices and lack of knowledge on my part. There is no family history on either side at such a young age. As a matter of fact, my generation is the first in our families to have these issues at such a level that were not alcohol abusers. Both of her grandfathers fall into that category.
When you consider the amount of HFCS that is ingested daily thru food, it is not just soda by a long shot, then you add fruit juices and even whole fruit thinking your doing your body good, the impact is enormous.
IF we got our fructose only in the form of whole fruit, and minimal amounts of sugar that has not been overly processed were being used like 50 or so years ago, our population would be so much healthier.
I refuse to buy any product produced with HFCS, fructose, or the new one which is even worse: crystalline fructose which is 99.5% fructose.
Buyer beware, the food industry is huge, the concern is on producing a product that people will buy not on the health effects of that food.
And the science behind that food is part of the job of all nutritionists.

lochniall

04/11/2010 - 11:41am

My concern with all the studies that you typically see/hear about support the use of HFCS used by food companies in almost all their products. The thing that is missing from this article is the amount that is used in food, it is not just soda.
It is all about how your body uses fructose/HFCS.
One really informative study was done by Dr. Robert H. Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California. You can access the entire series of lectures on youtube.
The concern that he brings forth has to do with the way your body processes any fructose, but especially HFCS.
Glucose is the form of energy we were designed to run on. Every cell in our bodies, every bacterium -- and in fact, every living thing on the Earth -- uses glucose for energy. Fructose is not the same molecule. Glucose is a 6-member ring, but fructose is a 5-member ring. Sucrose (table sugar) is 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose, and HFCS is 42-55 percent fructose. It doesn't sound like there is much difference between the two, but when you factor in the amount that is typically digested on a daily basis, the effect is enormous.
The way we digest fructose is similar to the way we digest alcohol, only without the buzz. The effect on the body includes all the classic symptoms of alcohol abuse, ie: beer belly, high triglycerides, high LDL levels, high blood pressure, weight gain.
My 16 year old daughter was diagnosed with metabolic disorder when she was very young and I firmly believe that is was due to poor food choices and lack of knowledge on my part. There is no family history on either side at such a young age. As a matter of fact, my generation is the first in our families to have these issues at such a level that were not alcohol abusers. Both of her grandfathers fall into that category.
When you consider the amount of HFCS that is ingested daily thru food, it is not just soda by a long shot, then you add fruit juices and even whole fruit thinking your doing your body good, the impact is enormous.
IF we got our fructose only in the form of whole fruit, and minimal amounts of sugar that has not been overly processed were being used like 50 or so years ago, our population would be so much healthier.
I refuse to buy any product produced with HFCS, fructose, or the new one which is even worse: crystalline fructose which is 99.5% fructose.
Buyer beware, the food industry is huge, the concern is on producing a product that people will buy not on the health effects of that food.
And the science behind that food is part of the job of all nutritionists.
If this posts twice, I apologize.

lochniall

04/11/2010 - 11:47am

It seems pretty ridiculous that you criticize this peer-reviewed study and do not give ample space for the author of the study to respond, which when eventually found in the list of 50 comments delineates articulate responses to every point made. Can't you at least provide a direct link to his responses?

Anonymous

04/12/2010 - 3:37pm

to the person who said you have to dig to find the editor's note, it's at the bottom of the blog! how is that digging?

Anonymous

04/12/2010 - 4:50pm

http://www.grist.org/article/interview-with-princeton-hfcs-researcher-dr.-bart-hoebel

Anonymous

04/13/2010 - 12:49am

Due to what I have read, I have been trying to avoid it.But I also have to say that Ive been trying very hard to avoid all sugar,period

anatale101

04/14/2010 - 2:21pm

Yes, I avoid HFCS and like products. And it looks like it is time to get your "top-notch nutrition researchers" to dig a little deeper and they can begin with this article and research studies done at Duke University Medical Center.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/17/you-did-it--we-are-winning-the-war-on-fructose.aspx

Anonymous

04/17/2010 - 9:24am

I have also listened to Dr. Lustig's lecture online. And I avoid HFCS. I also avoid added sucrose at home. I believe it is in the American Heart Association literature that women exceed "moderate" daily intake of sugar when they drink 1 can of soda and get no other sugar in any other foods or drinks. (Here is a link to an article in the WSJ about the need to curb sugar consumption: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204660604574370851517144132.html) I admit the idea of eating sugar "in moderation" to me was vastly more than 6-9 teaspoons most of my life. Years ago, I would buy 1-2 4lb. bags of sugar a month for my family of 4, maybe a 3rd bag if I was baking a lot, in addition to all the sugar encountered outside our home. To my way of thinking back then, having 1-2 sodas, breakfast cereal with sugar, a snack cake at lunch and a small dessert after dinner *was* "moderate"! (when I got the second slice of cake, *then* I was exceeding moderate in my mind) Now a 4lb. bag lasts months at home--it may well be more than a year now since I bought a bag of sugar. My concern that HFCS maybe a little worse than table sugar has to do with various articles I've read that suggest you will eat more than you would have because the brain messaging is altered. But I think it is also true of table sugar--I know I ate larger servings in general when I was eating lots more sugar. Perhaps it's just a matter of HFCS being like a "purer more refined drug" than the 50/50 sucrose mix we consider normal. I also read somewhere that HFCS is sometimes contaminated with heavy metals. If that is possibly true, then I could see that as a reason to avoid it also. I am actively being more mindful of my sugar intake, and I would not doubt that I can exceed 6 teaspoons in a day even now. So I think telling people that HFCS is not worse than sugar, is not a good message; it's very incomplete. I think most people still don't think the levels of sugar they regularly consume is excessive. And most people don't think of sugar as bad (just "too much" sugar) , so the alarm bells come off altogether when they are told HFCS is just like sugar. We need to have alarm bells on sugar and drill the message that "moderate sugar intake" is much less sugar than most people think.

Anonymous

04/17/2010 - 12:20pm

I try hard to avoid foods made with HFCS-it simply can not be good for anyone in anyway. It is so hard to do because it is in so many foods, especially bread.....I have changed my bread brand to one that clamis no HFCS is used.

I think there are so mnay illnesses these days because our bodies are ingesting so many man-made chemical cocktails instead of using ingredients in the original form. I have taken to make as many homemade products to avoid using HFCS and so many other undesirable ingredients.

Anonymous

04/18/2010 - 9:15pm

It is almost impossible to eat any food that is pre-packaged and avoid HFCS. It is in EVERYTHING. It is unfortunate that we as a society no longer have the time to prepare all of our food from scratch. I think that pre packaged food in general is the cause of the obesity in America.

Anonymous

05/03/2010 - 7:25pm

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