Tuesday, March 15, 2011

High Fructose Corn Syrup

One of the main concerns people have with HFCS is whether or not it causes obesity. This question was raised after a 2004 article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested the sweetener might cause weight gain. More recent evidence indicates that HFCS has the same effect on body weight as sucrose. Essentially, excess calories from any sweetener (or any food) can cause weight gain. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005, recommends decreasing the consumption of added sugars, which includes HFCS and sucrose as well as other forms of sugar. Eating a variety of healthier foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat and fat-free milk products, and lean meats and beans, combined with adequate physical activity is the best way to prevent obesity and maintain a healthy weight.

More research is needed to determine whether or not there is an association between HFCS and other chronic diseases. Currently, the main concern seems to be the effect that excess fructose consumption may have on the body. Although HFCS does contain fructose, its chemical composition is similar to sucrose (table sugar) and it is metabolized by the body the same way.

Many United States farmers produce subsidized (government funded) crops such as wheat, soybean, and/or corn. At least in part due to the subsidies, foods that contain HFCS such as prepackaged and processed foods are available at low cost. Since price is often a deciding factor when shopping, especially for those with limited resources, the lower cost of foods that contain HFCS may result in purchasing more highly processed, low nutrient-dense foods. Some health advocates suggest that limiting the incentives for producing corn used to make HFCS might increase the production of other crops such as fruits, vegetables, and grains, which would make them more available and perhaps more affordable.

The important message that should be conveyed to consumers is that the source of the added sugar should not be the main concern. It doesn't matter if the sugar comes from sucrose, honey, or HFCS. Instead consumers should watch their total calories and work on making sure they don't exceed their recommendations. HFCS along with other sweeteners should be consumed in moderation to avoid weight gain and the associated health problems.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.