Sugar Not to Blame for Obesity, Says Industry Group

Sugar is being unfairly blamed for the rising rate of obesity in the U.S., says one industry group, which notes that per capita consumption has actually declined over the past decade.

Sugar is unfairly touted as a major contributor to the obesity epidemic in the United States, the head of an industry group recently argued.

President and chief executive of Sugar Association Inc., Andrew Briscoe, told Reuters Health that sugar is being positioned as a scapegoat for the country’s rising obesity rate and that most sweeteners used in beverages like soft drinks and fruit juice are actually from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and not sugar.

In fact, Briscoe said, average per capita sugar consumption has fallen more than 40 percent in the past 40 years, according to data from the U.S. Agriculture Department and Centers for Disease Control.

This comes after the recent debate from U.S. health experts who are urging the government to impose a tax on sweetened drinks to help curb the obesity epidemic. The group cited USDA figures stating that nearly 15 times more HFCS than sugar is used in soft drinks.

However, the Sugar Association claims it is not pushing the blame off on corn syrup or HFCS, because contrary to what some health advocates portray, the consumption of all sweeteners has steadily decreased over the past decade. Because of this, “The data simply doesn’t back up that caloric sweeteners are the cause for the obesity epidemic in this country,” Briscoe said.

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