Food and Nutrition

High Fructose Corn Syrup is Not the Devil

| by Consumer Freedom

Our ObesityMyths and MercuryFacts websites are dedicated to debunking common misinformation about how some foods affect Americans’ health. But despite the media’s penchant for pouncing on every new food-scare study, flavor-of-the-month fear mongering doesn’t have much to offer consumers who are just trying to get healthier. Activists don’t like to admit it but a calorie is a calorie, and -- as we’re making clear this week -- sugar is sugar.

It’s become fashionable in recent years for food activists (and some marketers) to blame high fructose corn syrup for our collective love-handles. But all natural sweeteners (including cane sugar, beet sugar, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, and others) are made up of two basic sugar molecules called glucose and fructose. Each of those sugars contains the same number of calories as all other carbohydrates: just four per gram. So a gram of fructose in table sugar is no more fattening than a gram of fructose in honey, or a gram of fructose derived from corn.

Basic science truth hasn’t stopped celebrities like Jenny McCarthy from calling high fructose corn syrup “the devil,” and it hasn’t stopped a few lawmakers from trying to ban the sweetener. But only the most skilled logical acrobats can deny the evidence as it piles up. There’s no link between high fructose corn syrup and obesity, for instance, as a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirmed.

Taking another tactic, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) is scaring consumers with wild claims about traces of mercury in high fructose corn syrup. IATP published a junk-science study that claimed they found mercury in 17 out of 55 common grocery items containing the sweetener. But they neglected to test for mercury in food products that didn’t contain it, meaning there’s no way to tell whether the mercury came from a source other than corn. (Not only that, but the mercury traces were measured in parts per trillion – not exactly cause for concern.)

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