Here we go again.
Big Corn must be convinced we’re either stupid, have a short memory or both. Because they’re trying to fool us into eating high fructose corn syrup by giving it a new name… again.
More on that latest move to hoodwink us in a moment, but first let’s look back at the last time they tried to pull this.
Several years ago the public began to catch on to the dangers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
As more and more damning research emerged about the dangers of the highly refined sludge that we were pumping into our bodies, many folks made the decision to remove the poison from their menus.
People started reading labels religiously and turning away from products made with HFCS in droves.
HFCS had a black eye. Sales were dropping, and they showed no signs of turning around. Big Food began to scramble to replace HFCS with other sugars in their products.
The re-branding of high fructose corn syrup
It wasn’t long before the corn refiners who manufactured this stuff began to feel the pinch. In desperation the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) hatched a plan. They would rebrand high fructose corn syrup and change its image.
A media blitz followed.
They began calling high fructose corn syrup “corn sugar” in their multi-million dollar advertising “Sweet Surprise”ad campaign and they even launched two websites around the new moniker, sweetsurprise.com and cornsugar.com.1
Surprisingly in 2011 the typically sleepy FDA cautioned the CRA about using the term corn sugar, but the CRA pushed back and continued to use it for quite some time after that.
But in May 2012 when the FDA ruled against the CRA using the term on nutrition labels it became clear that their re-branding scheme had gone south and the content on cornsugar.com was taken down.
In one particularly memorable ad the CRA attempted to make a “concerned mom” look silly when she dared to question pumping the kids full of a HFCS filled fake juice punch. In the commercial the “smart mom” condescendingly explains that high fructose corn syrup is “natural” and that “like sugar, it’s fine in moderation.”
Here’s a refresher if you’ve forgotten it:
The problem is, the research says otherwise.
Let’s face it, we eat far too much added sugar regardless of the kind. Sugar is at the root of inflammation and is linked to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and more.
But there’s bad and then there’s awful.
And the fact is sugar isn’t simply sugar—and your body CAN tell the difference—despite what the CRA’s commercials say.
One of these sugars is NOT like the other
The truth is high fructose corn syrup leads to greater weight gain than table sugar, according to researchers at Princeton University.3
When the researchers allowed lab rats to eat HFCS they gained significantly more weight than rats who ate the same amount of calories in table sugar. But the differences didn’t end there.
Over the long term, the HFCS rats also had abnormal increases in body fat.
You see, our bodies process glucose and fructose differently.
Your body is able to use glucose for energy, but fructose has to be converted into something else to be useful.4 Glucose passes through your digestive tract and what isn’t used can be excreted, but your liver absorbs 100 percent of the fructose you eat in preparation to turn it into something usable.
This matters because any excess fructose that isn’t converted into energy—which in the average American is a heck of a lot—becomes belly fat and elevates your triglyceride levels.Although fructose is the kind of sugar you find in fruits and vegetables it’s in moderate amounts, and it comes in combination with other important nutrients. Our bodies aren’t designed to handle the vast quantities we’re now eating. And we’re nowhere near active enough to burn it all off before it gets absorbed and becomes fat.5,6
But the differences between fructose and glucose don’t end there.
When we eat HFCS we end up eating MORE
Unlike glucose, fructose doesn’t stimulate the release of insulin. And eating HFCS stimulates significantly less of the hunger-suppressing hormone leptin, while levels of the hunger-inducing hormone ghrelin start to climb.
In other words, when we eat high fructose corn syrup we may end up feeling hungrier and eating more fat to satisfy that hunger, according to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.7
According to the Food Ingredient and Health Research Institute between 1970 and 2010 our consumption of HFCS skyrocketed over 9,000%!
|Cane & Beet Sugar||59.8||38.7||-35%|
|High Fructose Corn Syrup||0.3||28.7||+9,476%|
Some experts estimate we eat up to 42 pounds of HFCS a year! (See image above, right.)
Is it really any wonder that as our consumption of high fructose corn syrup skyrocketed so did the cases of diabetes, heart disease and liver disease?
A sweet surprise goes sour
Now let’s get back to the latest chapter in the HFCS story… that name change we mentioned earlier.
The first time Big Corn tried to rebrand high fructose corn syrup they failed. But apparently they believe in the old adage “if at first you don’t succeed try, try again,” because they’re giving it another go.
And guess what? They’ve gotten away with it!
Products are already on store shelves proudly displaying “no high fructose corn syrup” on the package that do have corn syrup in them. Here’s how the Corn Refiners Association pulled it off.
When you see the term high fructose corn syrup or HFCS on a label it’s referring to one of two highly refined syrups, one that’s 42 percent fructose or another one that’s 55 percent fructose.
But it turns out there’s a third version of the syrup that’s 90 percent fructose called HFCS-90. Or we should say was called HFCS-90 because the folks at the CRA have rebranded it simply as “fructose.”
Here’s the explanation in the CRA’s own words…
“Syrups with 90% fructose will not state high fructose corn syrup on the label, they will state ‘fructose’ or ‘fructose syrup.’” 8
And you better believe Big Food is gleefully taking advantage of this loophole. In fact, according to the CRA’s own website, HFCS-90 is even being used in foods that are labeled natural and lite.
That’s right folks, their now marketing high fructose corn syrup as a natural sweetener!
Perhaps worst of all is the FDA doesn’t even acknowledge the existence of HFCS-90 on its website, only mentioning HFCS-42 and HFCS-55 as generally recognized as safe food additives.9, 10
The bottom line? Continue to read labels, but you’re going to have to be on the lookout for the words “fructose” and “fructose syrup” too. And don’t be fooled by packaging trumpeting that a product is HFCS-free. The very fact that they’re advertising it should make you cautious.
Your best bet is to steer clear of pre-packaged foods and fix as many home cooked meals with fresh organic ingredients as possible
1“Corn Sugar is false advertising,” Associated Press, 9/15/2011
2″Response to Petition from Corn Refiners Association to Authorize “Corn Sugar” as an Alternate Common or Usual Name for High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).’ May 30, 2012, fda.gov
3″A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain, Princeton University, March 22, 2010, princeton.edu
4″Health effects of sugar, Presentation, Dublin. 11.09.2014, L Tappy, M.D. Department of Physiology, University of Lausanne
5″Dietary Fructose Consumption Among US Children and Adults: The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey,” Medscape J Med. 2008; 10(7): 160.
6″Fructose – How Worried Should We Be?” Medscape J Med. 2008; 10(7): 159.
7″Dietary Fructose Reduces Circulating Insulin and Leptin, Attenuates Postprandial Suppression of Ghrelin, and Increases Triglycerides in Women,” Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2013, Volume 89, Issue 6
8″Sweetners: High Fructose Corn Syrups,” corn.org
9″High Fructose Corn Syrup: Questions and Answers,” Us. Food and Drug Association, fda.gov
10″CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21, PART 184 — DIRECT FOOD SUBSTANCES AFFIRMED AS GENERALLY RECOGNIZED AS SAFE, Subpart B–Listing of Specific Substances Affirmed as GRAS, Sec. 184.1866 High fructose corn syrup,” fda.gov
11″A SWEET (OR NOT SO SWEET) SURPRISE: UNPACKING THE FDA RULING AGAINST“CORN SUGAR”AS AN ALT. NAME FOR HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, Drake Journal of Agricultural Law, Vol. 18.2, 349-274
12″Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity,” Am J Clin Nutr April 2004, vol. 79 no. 4 537-543
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