In a recent communication with the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declined to authorize the use of the term corn sugar for high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The CRA has been troubled in recent years by the increasingly negative image of HFCS, due in large part to amassing research that suggests the body may metabolize it differently than table sugar [see, for instance, 1,2]. They’ve responded to this negative press by launching a campaign called Sweet Surprise designed to cast HFCS in a positive light, and have also requested that the FDA allow product manufacturers to list HFCS as corn sugar on packages.
Question: I’ve heard high-fructose corn syrup is bad, but I’ve also seen ads that say it’s just sugar. What’s the truth?
There are a multitude of alternative sweeteners available on the market today. Some of these, like fructose, contain calories. Others — the so-called non-nutritive sweeteners — do not. While these “artificial” sugars don’t elevate blood glucose like table sugar does (which makes them more appropriate and healthy for diabetics than traditional sugar is), and while the body can’t convert them into fat, they’re not completely free of problems and complications as components of diet.
High-fructose corn syrup, common in processed foods, is more likely than table sugar to increase the rate and amount of weight gain, according to a study in Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior . Specifically, consuming high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) increases the likelihood of gaining abdominal fat, which is particularly dangerous with regard to risk of heart disease.