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More food for thought on high-fructose corn syrup

March 26, 2010 | 11:45 am

Many readers were not shy about letting me know what they thought about my analysis of Princeton’s recent study on high-fructose corn syrup. The researchers drew the conclusion that HFCS is likely responsible for the fact that U.S. obesity rates have doubled since the 1970s (around the time the corn-based sweetener came on the market).

Sugar As I pointed out, the study had several flaws. The effects of HFCS were inconsistent across different groups of rats in different experiments, and were usually worse than the effects of table sugar. One experiment purporting to demonstrate the unique evils of HFCS didn’t even make a direct comparison to sugar.

This did not go down well with many readers. Several accused me of being in the pocket of the Corn Refiners Assn., the group behind those “Sweet Surprise” commercials you may have seen on TV. A few comments were too profane to even post.

So I was quite heartened to read this post by NYU nutritionist Marion Nestle on her excellent Food Politics blog. What did she think of the study? This is how she begins her post:

I can hardly believe that Princeton sent out a press release yesterday announcing the results of this rat study.  The press release says: “Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.”

How they came to these conclusions is beyond me.

Is Marion Nestle a paid shill for the corn refiners? Hardly. Her 2002 book “Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health” is an expose of the practices employed by the food-industrial complex that persuade us to overeat.

Those of you who are deeply passionate about this topic would do well to read the thoughtful comments on her blog as well.

-- Karen Kaplan

Photo: If you're bothered by HFCS, perhaps you should cut back on regular sugar too. Credit: Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times

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