Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup More Fattening Than Cane Sugar?

Is high-fructose corn syrup inherently more of a cause of obesity than ordinary cane sugar? Maybe so, but the studies that are commonly cited as evidence do not seem to be scientifically convincing.

There are three studies that have been widely quoted. Two were done at Princeton, and the third was done at the University of Florida.

The first Princeton study, which concluded that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is more obesity-producing than corn syrup, appears to be flawed because the group of rats getting the high-fructose-corn-syrup solution received a different concentration than the rats getting the cane-sugar solution. For the experiment to be scientific, both groups need to be treated the same way. In the second Princeton experiment, the effects of HFCS were not compared with those of cane sugar:

“The first study showed that male rats given water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup in addition to a standard diet of rat chow gained much more weight than male rats that received water sweetened with table sugar, or sucrose, in conjunction with the standard diet. The concentration of sugar in the sucrose solution was the same as is found in some commercial soft drinks, while the high-fructose corn syrup solution was half as concentrated as most sodas.”

“The second experiment—the first long-term study of the effects of high-fructose corn syrup consumption on obesity in lab animals—monitored weight gain, body fat and triglyceride levels in rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup over a period of six months. Compared to animals eating only rat chow, rats on a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup showed characteristic signs of a dangerous condition known in humans as the metabolic syndrome, including abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly. Male rats in particular ballooned in size: Animals with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained 48 percent more weight than those eating a normal diet”

The University of Florida study, which showed leptin resistance (leptin is a hormone produced in the body) as a result of high-fructose corn syrup, did not involve feeding the rats any cane sugar, so the same effects may well be caused by any sugar, not just high-fructose corn syrup.

The basic idea in any scientific study involving a control group is that both groups are treated the same way in all respects except one group receives the active principal. Read why "double-blind" experiments involving pharmaceuticals are suspect..

Conclusion: It appears that none of these studies scientifically showed that HFCS is any worse than cane sugar in producing weight-gain or other bad effects associated with sugar. Of course, just because the conclusions drawn from a study are not warranted does not mean that its premise is untrue—the consumption of HFCS may still be more obesity-causing than that of ordinary cane sugar, which is bad enough.

There probably are other good reasons for not consuming HFCS beyond the obesity issue. Whereas cane sugar is not genetically modified, corn is. There is good reason to stay away from all genetically modified foods as explained in Additionally, read about problems associated with all forms of sugar, and see

©Copyright 2011 by Robert Chuckrow

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