HFCS and The Rise of Obesity
In the early 1980′s the processed food industry discovered high fructose corn syrup and it has not looked back since. Today, high fructose corn syrup can be found in almost all types of processed foods and/or any food which has a lengthy shelf life.
In fact, from the 1980′s till now, the USDA estimates that our consumption of high fructose corn syrup has increased by over 1000%. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (April 2004, V.79) the average American (2 years and older) consumes, on average, 132 calories from high fructose corn syrup, a day.
However, since its discovery in the 1970′s, and mainstream use in the 1980′s, the effects of high fructose corn syrup on our health remained largely unstudied. It wasn’t until a few years ago that several groundbreaking obesity studies pointed the finger at high fructose corn syrup as one of the main factors contributing to our nation’s staggering obesity rate and high occurrence of both types of diabetes.
The most noteworthy of these studies was conducted by bray and colleagues and published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition (April 2004, V.79). This study concluded that high fructose corn syrup is not metabolized by the body in the same manner as sugar. Mainly, high fructose corn syrup does not stimulate the release of hormones that help us regulate our blood sugar levels and feel full after eating. This leads to overeating and maybe even binge eating.
Of course, food manufacturers struck back. Through aggressive television, Internet and newspaper advertisement campaigns they hoped to convince the general public that high fructose corn syrup is a natural sweetener because it is made from corn.
So, just how “natural” is high fructose corn syrup?
What Is High Fructose Corn Syrup?
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a man-made sweetener derived from corn, the one genetically engineered crop in the United States that is exposed to very high levels of pesticides.
Unlike natural sugar, which is derived from sugar cane, high fructose corn syrup is derived through a complicated, scientific process.
- Corn is milled into cornstarch
- Cornstarch is processed to create corn syrup which is mostly glucose
- Enzymes are added to transform the glucose into fructose
- Another set of mystery enzymes are added to the mixture to create a (HFCS) which is only 55% fructose
Why Use High Fructose Corn Syrup?
In the early 1980′s high fructose corn syrup became the processed food industry’s favorite sweetener because:
- High fructose corn syrup is cheaper than sugar
- High fructose corn syrup can significantly lengthen the shelf life of processed foods
List of Foods Containing High Fructose Corn Syrup
Today, high fructose corn syrup can be found in any food that has a long shelf-life.
- All brands of regular and diet soft drinks
- Some fruit juice brands, such as Hi C, which contains only 10% juice
- Processed foods such as packaged lunch meals
- Salad dressings, especially low-fat and low-calorie salad dressings
- Breakfast cereals, especially those that are sweetened
- All forms of processed tomato sauces such as ketchup, pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce
- Most baked goods such as English muffins and even some whole wheat breads