Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lies from Big Food and more evidence that high fructose corn syrup is a killer

A few nights ago I saw a commercial aired by the Corn Refiners Association, a group of liars who are trying to rescue high fructose corn syrup's image in an attempt to reverse collapsing sales of their cash-cow chemical found in everything from Miracle Whip, Heinz ketchup and soda pop to cereals, Nutrigrain bars and salad dressing.

In the ad, which is linked here but unfortunately I can't imbed it because it's locked in YouTube, a "dad" is walking along a corn field with a little girl and they're both holding hands. Aw, how sweet. After saying that he consulted both medical and nutrition experts on the health and safety of high fructose corn syrup, the "dad" concludes in rather simple, aw-shucks language that whether you eat corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can't tell the difference. "Sugar is sugar," he says.


As quoted in Science Daily in March 9, 2009, Gerald Shulman, MD, PhD, at Yale University, had this to say about the difference between high fructose corn syrup and regular table sugar in reference to a study in which he was involved:

"There has been a remarkable increase in consumption of high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose is much more readily metabolized to fat in the liver than glucose is and in the process can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease."
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease ultimately manifests itself into hepatic insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Type II diabetes, which usually accompanies obesity, is a huge risk factor for heart attack (#1 killer of Americans today), stroke and other killers of millions of Americans every year. Also, obesity is linked to cancer (it has already been proven that cancer feeds on sugar and many cancer patients are advised to curtail sugar consumption) and is a major contributor to joint pain, arthritis, back pain and other debilitating conditions.

The Science Daily article continues:
High-fructose corn syrup, which is a mixture of the simple sugars fructose and glucose, came into use in the 1970s and by 2005 the average American was consuming about 60 pounds of it per year. Overall, dietary intake of fructose, which is also a component of table sugar, has increased by an estimated 20 to 40 percent in the last thirty years.
It just so happens that "the last thirty years" have directly corresponded with skyrocketing obesity. If you're my age (37), think about it: Were there really this many obese and overweight people when we were kids? Something has happened to people's waist lines...and it's high fructose corn syrup! And it's killing us!

You can read about the esteemed Dr. Shulman here. And it's worth noting that the following other medical professionals were involved in the study:
The researchers include Yoshio Nagai, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT , Howard Hughes Medical InstituteShin Yonemitsu, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT , Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Derek M. Erion, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Takanori Iwasaki, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; Romana Stark, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; Dirk Weismann, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT Jianying Dong, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; Dongyan Zhang, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT , Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Michael J. Jurczak, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Michael G. Loffler, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; James Cresswell, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; Xing Xian Yu, ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, CA; Susan F. Murray, ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, CA; Sanjay Bhanot, ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, CA; Brett P. Monia, ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, CA; Jonathan S. Bogan, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; Varman Samuel, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT and Gerald I. Shulman, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT , Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
I wonder what the Corn Refiners Association would have to say about that?

But that's not even the most damning evidence against HFCS. Earlier this year, a Princeton University research team reported on a study showing that rats ingesting high fructose corn syrup gained far more weight--and became obese--than rats that ingested just table sugar, even though the caloric intake with both test groups was the same. The rats that had consumed the HFCS put on large amounts of fat, especially in the abdomen, and saw an increase in triglycerides in the blood. Here's what Princeton's very own Bart Hoebel, PhD, an expert in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction, had to say about the study:
"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."
You can read about Dr. Hoebel by clicking here.

Miriam Bocarsly, a Princeton graduate student who was involved in the study, said:
"These rats aren't just getting fat; they're demonstrating characteristics of obesity, including substantial increases in abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides. In humans, these same characteristics are known risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes."
"Our findings lend support to the theory that the excessive consumption of high-fructose corn syrup found in many beverages may be an important factor in the obesity epidemic," said Nicole Avrena, a research associate also involved in the study.

If you want even more evidence of the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, a simple Google search will provide all of that and more.

So really what you have from the Corn Refiners Association and other lobbyist groups are lies, lies and lies. The CRA's ads directly contradict science and are intended to confuse and muddy the debate. But fortunately consumers are the strongest voice in this matter and are already onto Big Food's profiteering shananigans which, like cigarettes, have killed millions of people. Fearful of bad PR, many food makers are now moving away from HFCS (e.g., Heintz ketchup now has "Simply Heinz," which doesn't have HFCS), and this has prompted the Corn Refiners Association's campaign of lies.

When you get right down to it, the soft drink industry is the Corn Refiners Association's last, best hope. Without Coca Cola and Pepsi, the CRA is nothing. Next time you or I drink a Coke or Pepsi let's keep that in mind, OK?

As the downfall of HFCS continues, may Americans and people around the world consuming a Western diet feel better, live longer and enjoy greater quality of life.

The truth will prevail.


  1. Great posting Wyatt. Have felt the need to share on FB and Twitter. Spread the word, and hopefully the power of the people will prevail.

    If enough people are aware of this and start voting with their feet (and supermarket purchases) then this can be wiped out in a very short space of time. Just think of the long term saving to the health system.

    Keep it up,

  2. I'll agree and disagree on two points you make. First, that HFCS is bad for you. It is bad for you in certain doses. Just like salt and anything else we eat or drink. I'm not saying HFCS is good for you, I'm saying that small doses are okay. The unfortunate side of things though is that that small dose isn't what's used to produce foods today.

    Second, HFCS caused the obesity epidemic. It isn't the sole cause, but it is a contributing factor. I'm a few years younger than you (just turned 34) and I agree that our generation (and those coming after us) has seen a spike in obesity. And yes, HFCS is a part of that. But so is the TV and the Internet. When you were a kid, did you play with your friends outside or send them a text on a cell phone? I played outside because I'd only seen a cell phone in the movies and it was HUGE!

    But I think the real kicker is processed food. I'm allergic to chicken (and all poultry) and nuts. My kids are allergic to milk and nuts. When I was a kid, food allergies were unheard of. Now my daughter's school has a peanut-free table because there are so many kids with nut allergies. Think about your parents (and aunts, uncles, and grandparents). How many of them have food allergies? Cancer? Were they healthy because they ate fresh food and worked outside? Now think about you and those younger than us. There's an increase in allergies, cancer, and obesity.

    Bottom line, HFCS is just one cog in the wheel. In my book, it doesn't matter if it's large or small, we need to address the whole thing as a society before we can fix it.

    My two cents. Your mileage and pace may vary.