In 2004, researchers at the University of Louisiana hinted that an increase in the use of high-fructose corn syrup in the United States since the 1970s coincides with an increase in obesity rates in this country. Ever since then, the sweetener has been maligned as one of the most dangerous food ingredients to come along since refined white sugar.

A Princeton University study published in the March 18, 2010 issue of the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior showed that rats fed high-fructose corn syrup became obese while rats fed equal amounts of sucrose (table sugar), did not gain extra weight. All other conditions, including total calorie intake, were equal. Lead researcher Bart Hoebel says this may mean that high-fructose corn syrup is more easily converted into fat in the body than table sugar.

Another concern about corn syrup stems from the simple fact that it is made from corn, or corn starch, to be exact. Basically, corn starch is converted into glucose, some of that glucose is converted into fructose, and you have corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup contains additional fructose. Farmers in the U.S. are subsidized by the government to grow corn, much of which is used to manufacture sweeteners and fillers that end up in a wide variety of processed foods eaten by both humans and animals. Some say that's just too much corn in our food supply.

Harvard experts recommend limiting all caloric sweeteners to less than 10% of daily calories.  On a 2,000-calorie diet, that means fewer than 200 of your daily calories should come from sugar of any kind.  You can look on the food label of any processed food, under carbohydrates and find the amount of sugar in that food, in grams. To convert that number to calories, simply multiply by 4 . (There are 4 calories per gram of sugar.) For instance, an 8-ounce glass of ginger ale, with 22 grams of sugar, is supplying 88 calories worth of sugar, or almost half the daily limit.  An 8-ounce container of nonfat, fruit flavored yogurt, with 47 g sugars supplies 188 calories from sugar, or almost a full day's supply. If corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup is on the ingredient list, you can bet that's where those sugar calories are coming from.

The reason high-fructose corn syrup is so commonly used as a sweetener in processed foods is that it is much less expensive to produce than sugar. And that's why there has been such an increase in the use of corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup since the 1970s.  It has simply taken over where sugar might have gone and become more readily available.



PubMed: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (April 2004)Consumption of High-Fructose Corn Syrup in Beverages May Play a Role in the Epidemic of Obesity; GA Bray,


Harvard School of Public Health: High-Fructose Corn Syrup and Health


Bastyr University/Seattle Post-Intelligencer: High Fructose Corn Syrup and Children


Elmhurst College: Virtual Chembook: Corn Syrup