A well-known television ad campaign sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association tells us that high-fructose corn syrup is “is made from corn, has no artificial ingredients, has the same calories as sugar and is okay to eat in moderation,” so we all feel better about digesting it, right?
Think again. High-fructose corn syrup may be public enemy number one when it comes to our diet. Even if you have a tendency not to pack in the calories, this sweetener may be the reason you are packing around extra weight.
In the 40 years since the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup as a cost-effective sweetener in the American diet, rates of obesity in the U.S. have skyrocketed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 1970, around 15 percent of the U.S. population met the definition for obesity; today, roughly 1/3 of the American adults are considered obese, the CDC reported.
High-fructose corn syrup is found in a wide range of foods and beverages, including fruit juice, soda, cereal, bread, yogurt, ketchup and mayonnaise. On average, Americans consume 60 pounds of the sweetener per person every year.
“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests," said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction at Princeton University.
Hoebel and his team discovered when rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese— every single one, across the board. “Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight.”
And these rats aren’t just getting fat. They are exhibiting the characteristics of obesity, including substantial increases in abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides, says Princeton graduate student Miriam Bocarsly. In humans these characteristics are known factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes.