High-Fructose Corn Syrup is a liquid sweetener extracted from starchy plants such as corn, potatoes, and tapioca. They first entered the market during the 1970’s as a response to the high prices of sugar. The demand for HFCS has recently increased due to the increasing demand for soft drinks. HFCS represent a lower cost of production for industries that require sugar in their products. However, HFCS only accounted for 10% of the market of sugar at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Additionally, people around the world are more concerned about health problems like obesity and diabetes so they are demanding more “low-calorie [but] high-intensity sweeteners.” In other words, people are demanding products that will taste almost the same as sugar but will not affect them the same way. Some believe that HFCS can be the solution to some health problems. However, there is an ongoing debate about whether or not HFCS are good for health and if they could be, in fact, potentially harmful for humans. The largest producer of HFCS is by far the USA, which is followed by the European Union, Canada, Korea, Argentina, and Taiwan. (1)
On the one hand, people argue against the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup. They argue that the effects on health are drastic. For example, King Corn, a documentary, was filmed based on the real implications of HFCS. The following video is an interview with its filmmaker.
Research was conducted by Princeton University (2). Some rats were given HFCS and some rats were given sugar. The differences between both groups were contradictory to the general belief of our society. Sugar-fed rats were healthier than HFCS-fed rats! Rats that were given HFCS gained more weight and increased their triglycerides count. Bart Hoebel, a professor specialist in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction states:
“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, at least under the conditions of our tests. When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight” (2)
On the other hand, some ads tell the world that corn syrup and HFCS are not as bad as they seem to be. They tell you, that they are, in fact, better than sugar! Time magazine published an article about the debate around HFCS and its link to obesity. “The American Medical Association recently announced at its annual policy-making meeting in Chicago that high-fructose corn syrup does not contribute more to obesity than sugar or other caloric sweeteners.” (3)
As a consumer of sweeteners, I would not be able to tell if sugar is better or worse than HFCS. The world is facing a real problem. Due to greedy corporations, the public is suffering from a lack of real information. Commercials tend to confuse the public, and one no longer can identify the truth. We cannot trust everything that is said during our times so I would suggest consumers to try to reduce the amount of sugar and HFCS that they consume in order to keep up with their health. We will not see the consequences of the use of either one of them until time passes. However, if the consequences turn out to be really harmful for the world, it will be all the fault of a growing greedy market.
“To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals”- Benjamin Franklin
(1) “The Cambridge World History of Food – Sugar.” Web. 02 Apr. 2012. <http://www.cambridge.org/us/books/kiple/sugar.htm>.
(2) “Princeton University – A Sweet Problem: Princeton Researchers Find That High-fructose Corn Syrup Prompts Considerably More Weight Gain.” Web. 02 Apr. 2012. <http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/>.
(3) McLaughlin, Lisa. “Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup Really Good for You?” Time. Time, 17 Sept. 2008. Web. 22 Mar. 2012. <http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0%2C8599%2C1841910%2C00.html>.