Corn Syrup: Safe or Scary?

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Corn Syrup: Safe or Scary?

High fructose corn syrup, or HFCS – a mixture of glucose and fructose – is in almost everything that we eat, from soda to salad dressing. Many people say it’s harmless, just another form of sugar. Others, however, claim that HFCS in food products may contribute to the development of diabetes. Some conspiracy theorists even posit that high fructose corn syrup is being deliberately pushed on the American people to keep them hooked on sweet treats.

But is it true? Not according to a supplement to appear in the June issue of the Journal of Nutrition, which cites the results of a scientific summary published by a joint conference held in March 2008 by the International Life Sciences Institute of North America and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The report says it’s time critics of HFCS quit singling out high fructose corn syrup as the bad guy of the American diet and the cause of our nation’s obesity epidemic.

Critics claim that high fructose corn syrup and plain old sugar – sucrose – affect satiety, energy use and insulin levels. Scientists who attended the conference disagree, saying that little evidence exists to back such claims. Sugar is sugar is the message of the ILSI researchers, adding that high fructose corn syrup is no more likely to affect obesity than is table sugar, honey or sugar in any other form.

While this research finding would seem to put the controversy over the health effects of HFCS to rest, it’s important to note that the author and publisher of the report, the International Life Sciences Institute is a Washington, D.C.-based “educational and research organization” that is funded in part by a vast list of “member organizations” – a list that just happens to include some of the biggest producers and users of high fructose corn syrup in America, such as ADM, Cargill, ConAgra, the Coca-Cola Company and others.

Make of this what you will.

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