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High Fructose Corn Syrup Makes Us Fat. Now We Know.

5/19/2010 12:00:00 AM

Tags: high fructose corn syrup, HFCS, obesity

I grew up in a Midwestern town where high fructose corn syrup is made, so I’ve seen firsthand its environmental impact—and it’s not pretty. If you’ve ever smelled the steam from a corn syrup factory, I guarantee you wouldn’t be eating foods that contain the stuff. Highly processed high fructose corn syrup is a menace in many ways, and now Princeton University researchers have proven what many of us already knew—that it causes abnormal weight gain, contributing to America’s obesity problem.

Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback
Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback are two sodas that ditched high fructose corn syrup in favor of using real sugar. Photo By Kristen Bonardi Rapp/Courtesy Flickr.  

The Princeton high fructose corn syrup study gives high fructose corn syrup critics the first real batch of evidence they need to link this sweetener to obesity. Rats who consumed high fructose corn syrup gained 48 percent more weight than rats who consumed regular table sugar, even though both groups had the same caloric intake. The rats who consumed high fructose corn syrup had increased amounts of triglycerides and fat deposits in their bodies, with much of the fat accumulating around the stomach.

High fructose corn syrup was developed about 40 years ago. Today it’s used in an alarming number of products, from sodas to crackers to condiments. On average, we consume about 60 pounds of this sweetener each year. The good news is, consumer complaints have forced some companies to remove corn syrup from their products. Pepsi Throwback, Mountain Dew Throwback, Gatorade, Hunt’s ketchup and several Kraft salad dressings are switching to regular sugar, even though it costs 40 percent more. Consequently, sales of high fructose corn syrup have fallen 9 percent within the past year and are expected to keep falling.

In 1970, 15 percent of the American population was considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today, almost one third of Americans are obese. Coincidence? Probably not. It’s time to get off the high fructose corn syrup.

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