Four reasons why high-fructose corn syrup is probably not the Devil


I've been curious for a while now about the proven differences—or lack thereof—between current boogeything high-fructose corn syrup and sugars, in general. I haven't had a chance to do any heavy reporting on the subject, but, the more of other people's reporting I read, the less worried I am about the stuff. Here's a few of the key things I'm learning:

1) Diets high in sugars—all and any kinds of sugars—are bad for you. If high-fructose corn syrup is a bigger problem than other sweeteners, it's because the stuff is so cheap that it enabled food companies to add delicious, delicious sweetener to all kinds of things that might not otherwise have contained it. But that's a function of economics, not chemistry. In fact, high-fructose corn syrup isn't the only "added sugar" in use. It makes up about half the added sugars in processed foods. The others—beet sugar, cane sugar, etc.—still rack up calories and are still no good.

2) Sugary beverages are a key factor in rising obesity rates. They happen to be sweetened, usually, with high-fructose corn syrup. But, again, that's because it's the cheapest sweetener. It's probably not the specific sweetener that's the problem here, but the fact that Americans drink a lot of sugary beverages. We'd be seeing a problem from over-consumption even if the sweetener was sugar.

3) The few studies that have turned up evidence for corn-syrup specific weight gain have had inconsistent results. Other studies have demonstrated potential health problems linked to consumption of fructose compared to other forms of sugar—but fructose isn't something that's specific to high-fructose corn syrup. In fact, high-fructose corn syrup has less fructose than a lot of other sweeteners. We only call it "high-fructose" because it's got a higher fructose-to-glucose ratio than straight-up corn syrup.

4) One of the sweeteners that has way more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup: Agave nectar. It's somewhere between 70% and 87% fructose, while most of the high-fructose corn syrup you'll run into is only 55% fructose. Other natural sweeteners, like honey and apple sugar, are also in the range of around 50% fructose. There's no solid evidence that shows this fructose to be any different than the fructose in high-fructose corn syrup. If you're really concerned about fructose (And I'm not sure you should be yet. Most of those studies are dealing with pure fructose in test tube or animal research, not real-life mixtures of sugar in human bodies.) your best bet may be maple syrup, which is only 1% fructose.

My take: Keep an eye out for added sugars—of all kinds—in products. If you're worried about empty calories and weight gain, that's your real concern. But don't stress too much about this. Cutting down on the added sugars in your life is good. But a little added sugar isn't going to kill you. And high-fructose corn syrup isn't more of a worry than any other sweetener.

Where am I getting this from?
Science Based Medicine: Corn Syrup: Tasty Toxin or Slandered Sweetener?

New York Times "Well" Blog: In Worries About Sweeteners, Think of All Sugars

Slate: Dark Sugar

The Journal of Nutrition: The State of Science on Dietary Sweeteners Containing Fructose: Summary and Issues to Be Resolved

American Medical Association: REPORT 3 OF THE COUNCIL ON SCIENCE AND PUBLIC HEALTH—The Health Effects of High Fructose Syrup, Executive Summary (PDF)

Junkfood Science: The Science of Sweets


    1. Truth. All I could think about while writing this is the fact that my great-grandparents used to pour straight corn syrup onto their pancakes in the morning.


      1. Makes me think of ribbon cane syrup on my grandma’s biscuits. The trick was the taste was so strong a little went a long way.

        1. Cane syrup comes from sugar cane. Corn syrup is not the same as high fructose corn syrup. HFCS was only invented in the 1970’s in Japan. It has to be highly processed, unlike sugar (relatively speaking), and the process leaves behind bits of mercury. Cocaine leaves –> Coccaine –> Crack, Corn on the cob –> corn syrup –> HFCS.

  1. The overriding problem with “high-fructose corn syrup” is that it tastes awful. The result is that everything that has “high-fructose corn syrup” as an ingredient taste awful too.

      1. I am studying in the US for two semesters and back in Denmark I had a mild addiction to Coca Cola, but over here i can’t drink it because it just tastes horrible. I guess I should thank HFCS for making me cut back (by a lot) on sodas.

        1. Ack, that´s how i got rid of my Coca Cola addiction as well: went to the US for a while, got a real “bleah” experience from the HFCS Coke… for you ppl in the US, try the kosher coca cola round hannukah (yellow cap) and tell me there is no difference… also: if there is ONE Produce in the world that is ubiquitous and cheap, and always has been, its cane sugar. problem is, it´s not patented by monsanto… that´s why the US has so much HFCS…

          1. Yeah, there is a bitter aftertaste in Coke and Pepsi with HFCS as opposed to the Kosher and Mexican versions with sugar.

        2. Find some Mexican Coke. The better local restaurants are importing it from south of the border, and it has pure cane sugar, and tastes mighty good.

  2. The true evil of corn sugar is that it is much cheaper than other sugars. Stupid free market brought us more of what we want at a lower price, and its the sugar’s fault because now we consume too much of it. If only there was some larger actor that could force consumers to recognize the social costs of overconsuming cheap sugar.

    1. Corn syrup is not from the free market. It is subsidized, so farmers are getting paid to over saturate the market with corn making the actual product so cheap that we are trying to make anything and everything out of it.

      If it were on the free market, then farmers would definitely switch to another crop because they couldn’t sell the corn for what it costs to grow it.

      So, it really doesn’t matter if HFCS is or is not worse for you than any other sugar.

    2. I posed this cost argument to a smart writer I know who is writing a book about sugar. His response:

      My take on why HFCS is used in greater quantities has nothing to do with its cost or the subsidies. The cost of the sweetener (as industry analysts explained to me the first time i looked into this ten years ago) is so trivial that the minor variations between HFCS and sugar/sucrose have little to do with these decisions. When HFCS-55 was introduced in the late 1970s, sugar was getting a beating as being a generally all around noxious nutrient. So HFCS was used because it had the appearance of being healthy. No one knew it was just sugar by another name.

    3. Stupid free market brought us more of what we want at a lower price, and its the sugar’s fault because now we consume too much of it.

      “Free market”? Corporate welfare you mean. The problems associated with these corn subsidies go beyond health into poverty and immigration issues as well. Such things don’t exist in a vacuum.

    4. Corn syrup isn’t cheap because corn is simply cheap. It’s cheap because we subsidize factory-farmed corn very heavily. We pay for that HFCS not just with our waistlines but with our taxes.

    5. It’s not cheap; it’s government subsidized. That means we pay for it at tax time, just not at the checkout counter. If corn and corn syrup cost at the counter what it costs in reality, people’d switch back to maple and cane sugar in this country.

  3. There is a environmental impact when buying products that are made with Corn Syrup. Read any Michael Pollan book. They should be avoided.

    1. A good point – growing corn, whether for ethanol, corn syrup or cattle feed, has an environmental impact. True, but a different discussion.

  4. We’re getting somewhere with the conversation.
    Here’s the big issue, though, this stuff is in everything. From salad dressing, to spaghetti sauce to every single grocery aisle loaf of bread.
    If someone can tell me why a bottle of vinaigrette needs this, I’d love to hear it. Aside from the fact that you’re lazy if you don’t just make your own..
    Bread is supposed to be flour, water, salt and yeast. Maybe egg depending, maybe milk. Maybe some beer for certain types. But it sure as hell doesn’t need HFCS.

    1. I’m not a baker, but it’s my guess they’re adding it as a starter for the yeast, and it’s cheaper than other sugars.

  5. Indeed. Fructose and glucose are metabolized differently in the body (although they share a common intermediate fairly early in the process). But neither is really worse than the other, except in certain rare circumstances. Either is, frankly, necessary for life.

    That being said, it’s easy to get too much of a good thing. HFCS is bad for you in high quantities. It is, however, not significantly worse than other sugar sources. I think people didn’t make that point when the ‘HFCS is evil!’ campaign really kicked off. If cane sugar was that cheap, it would have been a different campaign.

    That being said, HFCS is in friggin’ everything. It’s really, really hard to go grocery shopping and get HFCS free food without spending a fortune on high-market brands. And that’s just silly. It’s in tons of stuff that really, really doesn’t need a sugar additive, and more affordable choice would probably keep people healthier. Manufacturers would be well served to realize that just because HFCS is cheap enough that they CAN put it in everything they make doesn’t mean that they SHOULD put it in everything they make.

    1. Attention marketers: I sniff line extension here Remember when too much salt was “suddenly” recognized as bad for you? The reaction from manufacturers — lower the sodium content, ballyhoo the Hell out of it, and charge more for the “improved” product.

      Perhaps we’ll soon see similarly improved products with lower levels of HFCS with the concomitant raised prices, once this engineered anti-HFS PR runs its course.

      (BTW, one really should be carefully with the dietary salt levels.)

    2. I found a link to a peer-reviewed report published by Environmental Health that says HFCS is commonly tainted with mercury — a highly toxic substance. +

    3. Careful thinking that fructose is necessary for life….Glucose is the base sugar that is used by your body for energy, and is metabolized differently than fructose. The only time the metabolic pathways are similar is when the blood sugar is low. Any other time the effects of fructose on your system is negative. Please do some more research on the difference between how fructose is metabolized vs. glucose…if you can make it through the science explanation, there is serious enlightenment on the other side…with the unfortunate realization of how screwed up our food supply is….buy local!!!!

  6. Thank you. Due to the terminology there is a lot of confusion on this issue.

    Now here’s one that no one seems to want to address: Is fruit bad for you, since its sugars are mostly (all?) fructose?

    People say “oh well, fruit offsets the badness somehow with fiber, and uh, something…”

    So what about 100% fruit juice? Is it the devil?

      1. I have no scientific fact behind this, but I remember reading somewhere that 4oz of juice is roughly equivalent to its fresh-fruit alternative. Calorie-wise anyway.

        So (it was said) if you feel like drinking that 20z glass of orange juice because it’s “good for you”, think to yourself “would I normally eat 5 oranges instead?”

        If not, cut down on the juice.

    1. The fructose in HFCS does not occur naturally. The corn has to go through several steps of processing with enzymes to convert the glucose to fructose. There is also a fructose enriching step to raise the fructose levels even higher.

      There has been an abundance of unhealthy foods available here in the U.S. for decades and decades. It seems like only in the last 10 to 15 years though that obesity and other diet related health problems have exploded. We cringe at what people back in our parents and grandparents generations ate. It was basically meat & potatoes, and fat. Lots and lots of fat. Real bacon, butter, half and half, red meat, lard. LARD for chrissakes! Oh, they had PLENTY of sugary foods and drinks. Somehow though obesity was not an epidemic. People had just as much opportunity to sit on their butts indoors and not exercise back then too. In fact it seems like exercise was only for athletes (plus the athletes and so-called buff people back then are fat by today’s standards!) until it became a fad in the ’70s. I remember as a kid it was like this new, hip thing to jog, exercise and eat healthy. And of course real down-home Americans like my dad thought that stuff was for fags! I dunno what goes on, alls I know is something is cock-eyed somewhere and you can’t blame everything on technology and viddy games.

      1. Flint corn, if soaked in water, will under go a natural process where the starches will convert into sugars. If, say, salt is present, this would inhibit the growth of yeast or other organisms. Now, there are plenty of natural things that contain enzymes. Any one of them could change how this mixture turns out. All that needs to happen is there be more fructose than other sugars, and then all the water to magically evaporate away and we have HFCS.

        While the last part has not happened, the first part is most certainly to have happened over and over again. Applied to grain its certainly how beer was discovered.

        Yeah. I recall int he 70s everyone was on some random health kick. People were thinner, and more active. I didnt actually notice the country getting fatter until the no fat craze. seems like everyone blew up around then.

  7. The less HFCS we eat, the less demand for the product. That would mean fewer government subsidies for corn, and perhaps a better equilibrium in terms of corn production vs. everything else. It may not be worse for your health than any other sugar, but it’s certainly bad for the planet and humanity in general.

    1. It really doesn’t mean less subsidies, it just means that the price of corn on the market would be even less and then companies would make more stuff out if it for cheaper, like ethanol, plastics, etc. You would really need to stop buying anything that is made from corn, but that doesn’t stop the farmer from growing it because he/she can still get paid the same from the subsidies.
      While it might be possible if a huge number of individuals and businesses stop buying corn products, that’s not going to happen.
      We need to gradually reduce the subsidies and encourage farmers to diversify the crops that are grown.

    2. Ummm…
      I’m not sure what country you are in, but less use of corn would probably INCREASE government corn subsidies. That’s the way we roll in the good ol’ US of A…

    3. Yeah, the Michael Pollan books put me on to the demands of the corn monoculture, and it scares the crap out of me. This is the best reason for getting off the corn.

  8. from what i gather, the fructose found in foods normally also has a large amount of fiber. part of the problem is fiber has been removed from most food as that slows decay, lengthening shelf life.

  9. Two facts:

    1) if you look at a graph of obesity in America, it increases pretty directly with the growing adoption of high fructose corn syrup.

    2) I cut out high fructose corn syrup about a year ago and right away lost a good 15 pounds, and kept it off even though I eat tons of junk food and sodas still, just ones without HFCS.

    I’m about 100% convinced that HFCS is completely responsible for obesity in America and, as it spreads to other countries, there too.

    And besides it tastes like crap.

    1. “I’m about 100% convinced that HFCS is completely responsible for obesity in America and, as it spreads to other countries, there too.”

      blame the product, not the consumer…..wait, what?

    2. Agreed Completely. I cut out the HFCS and lost around 15-20 pounds in about a month. I’m not dieting otherwise, nor am I doing any more or less physical activity than usual. Coincidence? Never mind whether or not fructose is bad for you.

      Here’s a good idea:

      If it requires an industrial factory to make, don’t eat it.

    3. How do you eat tons of junk food and not eat HFCS?

      Is there really that much junk food that doesn’t have it?

      Maybe you lost the weight by all the running around trying to find ‘tons’ of junk food with out the HFCS.

      1. Cute, but believe me, its quite easy. Been in a healthfood store lately? I live in San Francisco, and there’s lots and lots of them. I drink a Hansen’s soda almost every day now, which is more than I used to drink when I drank HFCS and lord knows I still shouldn’t drink that much of it, but alas.

        And don’t get me started on those damn Panda brand licorice bars.

        Its really hard to emphasize enough how striking the weight loss was when I stopped the HFCS. I pretty much feel like I can eat absolutely whatever I want now, as long as it doesn’t have HFCS. And back in my HFCS days I’d go up and down in weight all the time.

        1. Fair enough, and that last part was really meant to be just ‘Cute’ not mean. I really didn’t know if there was a lot of ‘junk food’ that didn’t contain HFCS.

          I really don’t have a strong opinion on whether HFCS is worse or not. For me, I have other reasons to stay away from it and don’t need to invest more time to look into it further.


      2. Man, I’m actually amazed that it’s so hard to avoid. We buy literally NOTHING with hfcs in it (well occasional candy but not that often). I just ate a bag of flavored chips that didn’t contain any hfcs and I didn’t check before I gobbled them up. What kind of stuff are we talking about here outside of the drinks?

    4. Wrybread, if you lost 15lbs don’t you think it has more to do with reading the ingredients on your food labels and paying attention to your diet? If people reliably lost ONE pound by switching sweeteners, we’d see huge statistical significance in most studies. 15 lbs? That’d be pretty impossible to miss in any study and there’d be *NO* question about it.

      There’s no known mechanism by which HFCS would be less healthy than other sweeteners. It’s the same stuff, produced by a different method. Any study that wants to prove HFCS is evil is going to need to be airtight and repeatable, since it’ll necessarily be challenging our understanding of metabolism at a pretty fundamental level.

      Occam’s Razor is enough here. The simplest explanation of the obesity epidemic doesn’t require rewriting our understanding of how the body processes sugars. It doesn’t require a vast conspiracy on the part of big agriculture and the FDA. The simplest explanation of the epidemic is simply that HFCS is so cheap that it can be put in *everything*, that our appetite for sweet stuff is limitless, and that we don’t have enough self control.

    5. I too gave up HFCS and within 2 weeks was down 8 lbs. All the while I was still drinking drinks that contained regular sugar, was still eating bread, potatoes, etc. So, it wasn’t from “cutting carbs” it was from cutting HFCS specifically. I also cut out corn, too. I don’t need a rat study I know what this stuff does to me. I can live without it, thanks.

  10. Couldn’t agree more with your points.

    However, fructose in general is problematic for many people. Fructose intolerance quite often goes hand in hand with at least the more severe forms of lactose intolerance. Though the symptoms aren’t exactly the same, they’re similarly unpleasant.

    The ubiquitous HFCS means sufferers can’t consume many of the foods on our supermarket shelves. And while I might not like HFCS in my favourite foods, in a sense I’m still fine with that, as long as it’s clearly labelled.

  11. FYI: I know about, and agree, that there is a problem with the way we grow corn and corn subsidies—and high-fructose corn syrup is a part of that, in so much as its the subsidies that make it so cheap.

    But I see that as a somewhat separate issue to the question of health. There might be good reasons you’d choose to avoid high-fructose corn syrup. But health doesn’t seem to be one of them.

    1. Thank you Maggie, for this post. I appreciate your perspective on this issue, however I don’t agree that economics and public health can (or should) be separated. It seems to me that when there’s a corporate interest in something, there’s a great deal of manipulation (package labeling, marketing/advertising, lobbying etc) in order to fulfill the interest. That manipulation tends to have no concern of the effects on public health, obesity, diabetes, and the many other health problems that we seem to be facing now (especially as it relates to public school lunches). I think that simplifying the matter to an issue of economics and ignoring the effect on public health seems to be exactly what big corn wants us to subscribe to in order to uphold the status quo of HFCS in our food.

    2. In an earlier post you stated: “But I see that as a somewhat separate issue to the question of health. There might be good reasons you’d choose to avoid high-fructose corn syrup. But health doesn’t seem to be one of them.”

      Unfortunately, your original post makes it clear that there is an excess of consumption of HFCS, which is a health issue.

      But how long have people been consuming HFCS?, and for how long have those same consumers known that HFCS (for practical purposes)= sugar?

      The truth is that we as consumers are not well informed about what we eat, and manufacturers are always looking for ways to deceive us about what we eat; A label will read Fat free! in big bold letters and have the caloric content in small print. Because people think fat makes you fat, all the while ignoring that its the calories in fat that get turned into fat.

      Bottom line, people already know that too much sugar is bad for you, now they’ve found out that HFCS is just as bad as sugar (the point of your post), if not worse (the point made by many posters).

      So whats the real issue at stake here?

      Consumers were not on the lookout for excessive HFCS, now they are.

      The wrinkle is that there is a proposed name change for HFCS. And if HFCS is just as bad as sugar, then what does that say about the producers of food that put HFCS into so many products?

      I think that’s the nerve you’ve struck here and the reason for so much dissent. Because posts like this one, tell us that HFCS is not bad. But it is, not because it is evil, but because it is everywhere.

  12. For me, the problem is the name change. I want to know what’s in my food and where it came from. Let me decide whether or not to eat it.

  13. Except that HFCS actually shuts down the genes responsible for burning fat.

    So does sitting without rising for four hours straight, by the way.

    Seriously people – drink water and GTFU!!!

  14. Yeah, it seems to be pretty much true that calorie for calorie, HFCS is the same as cane sugar. However, the fact that HFCS is added to everything (including things you don’t expect to have added sugar) is the real problem.

    I’m still curious whether people eat more of food sweetened with corn syrup vs. cane sugar, though. My n=1 individual experience suggests that this might be a factor. I find that the sweet taste of cane-sugar Coke lingers in my mouth much longer after each sip, and therefore I am satisfied with a much smaller serving of cane-sugar Coke, compared to corn-syrup Coke.

    Confounding factors, of course: I knew it was cane-sugar Coke, I knew it had been more expensive (because I’d just bought it), it came in a smaller-serving package, and package design was significantly different (glass bottle vs. plastic). It wasn’t a blind taste test at all. So that all could have primed me to drink it more slowly to savor it, and eating/drinking anything more slowly is likely to make you eat/drink less of it. But I really did notice a difference in the flavor.

    So I’d be interested to see a properly controlled study done.

  15. Ah, you blew it. You may be right about all of this but you should have finished up with something like “the jury is still out” not that it “isn’t more of a worry than any other sweetener.” I don’t think your evidence is conclusive at all and it makes you sound just as bad as those who say hfcs is straight from the devil. What about research that has found that hfcs causes liver damage? I’m not saying your necessarily wrong but, it sounds like you’re closing the book on this.

    We also had Karo syrup in the house for our cornbread when I was growing up–ex-Southerners… As a matter of fact, I bought some couple years back but couldn’t bring myself to actually use it.

  16. Wonderful article. Neatly sums up a great body of scientific evidence to reach a science based, easily understandable conclusion. Bravo!

  17. I believe that HFCS is not inherently a bad product, but it really does appear in all sorts of strange places. I don’t think that it is only that we like sweet things. I think it is allowing the big food companies to use lesser quality inputs. Most people don’t add sugar to tomato sauce at home because good tomatoes have both acid and sweet. Bad tomatoes lack any sweet, so the big companies add a bunch of sugar.

    We avoid HFCS not because it is inherently bad, but because it is so cheap that it is added to all sorts of products that don’t normally get sugar added.

  18. One other point: The most common suggested alternative to HFCS is cane/beet sugar, which is sucrose — a molecule consisting of 1 part fructose, 1 part glucose. Maple sugar is also 90%+ sucrose.

    The body can’t absorb sucrose. Digestive enzymes break sucrose into fructose and glucose in a 50/50 split. At which point the body absorbs the two separately, just as with HFCS.

    1. To further blaisepascal’s point: Your body’s enzymes regulate the breakdown of sugar (sucrose) into fructose and glucose — so if you’re drinking a sugary beverage made with cane or beet sugar, your liver gets a workout as it receives a steady flow of fructose to metabolize.

      …but if you’re drinking a sugary beverage made with HFCS, your liver gets hit by a freight train: All the fructose arrives at once, and sits there doing liver damage while it waits to be metabolized. (I’m grossly oversimplifying things that I only learned from watching YouTube, but nonetheless: Empty calories from sugar = bad, empty calories from HFCS = worse, and run away screaming from “crystalline fructose”.)

  19. I’m with Malakith and sdmikev.
    (a) Coca cola honestly tastes different (and worse) in the US (my contrast is with my former home in Australia). It’s less powerful, and therefore easier to drink too much of it.
    (b) the bread in the USA tastes sweet, compared with that in other countries. Even ‘healthy’ wholegrain or multigrain loaves have HFCS as often the second ingredient, unless they are specifically advertised as ‘No HFCS’. Which says to me that the problem goes beyond one specific sweetener, and to the obsession with cheap, poor quality food. If better ingredients were used, sweetener wouldn’t be necessary to make the bread palatable. But that would push the price up (and possibly out of the range of people living on or near the joke of a minimum wage)…

    1. This American obsession to even sweeten their bread quite puzzled me when I lived there. It’s an odd taste. And unneeded extra sugars. That, and the ginormous amouns of soda being consumed. It sure is a sweet folk, these Americans. :-)

  20. If you don’t think there are health reasons to avoid HFCS, you should spend some time with the film “King of Corn” (free stream for the Netflix inclined).

    Particularly pay close attention to how HFCS is made. If you don’t think such a chemical laden process doesn’t have an effect on you in ways we are unable to fully determine, you are naive.

    Michael Pollan makes the case way better than I do however, so check him out as well.

    1. “Particularly pay close attention to how HFCS is made. If you don’t think such a chemical laden process doesn’t have an effect on you in ways we are unable to fully determine, you are naive.”

      I think the way you are using the word “chemical” is naive.

  21. Agree with the fact that people should cut sugar and starches overall and if they haven’t, then they really shouldn’t be fretting about fructose vs. other sugars.

    But this article completely glosses over the science behind why fructose is particularly evil. I’d suggest googling fructose and leptin resistance. Basically, fructose is metabolized differently, and large amounts of it frequently (i.e. daily soda) can contribute to leptin and insulin resistance more than just regular sugars and starches. For those who have done their research, it’s obvious that developing leptin and insulin resistance is THE precursor to obesity and often diabetes.

    1. #37 is exactly right, HFCS is indeed worse for you than regular sugar because it inhibits leptin.

      Here is a link to an article on this topic from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

      From the abstract:
      “In addition, unlike glucose, fructose does not stimulate insulin secretion or enhance leptin production. Because insulin and leptin act as key afferent signals in the regulation of food intake and body weight, this suggests that dietary fructose may contribute to increased energy intake and weight gain.”

  22. The difference between HFCS and the corn syrup your grandma used to use is additional processing. (Think chemical additive instead of read food ingredient)

    Regular corn syrup is less sweet than HFCS. HFCS also turns off a regulator in the body and it doesn’t think it gets full, thereby causing the eater to want more.

    Also there is the GMO component: ALL CORN IS CONTAMINATED BY GMO. The genetically modified component is blowin’ in the wind and has contaminated all the corn, organic or not.

    There has been a LOT of money given by the big corporations to convince us that HFCS is good for you!

    Be vigilant and realize that we don’t have millions of dollars of anti-advertising money to protect us from the dark arts of advertising and marketing. The same is said for ‘Clean Coal’ it doesn’t exist!

  23. A lot of people seem to claim that HFCS tastes bad, yet numerous studies, some of which were even double-blind, have shown otherwise. Granted, some of those studies were paid for by the corn or junk foods industries, although they were carried out by reputable organizations. The bad “taste” is most likely a placebo. No one complained about the taste before HFCS became demonized.

    Personally, I’m in the camp that believes all sweeteners are bad, including HFCS. And to the person who asked about fruit being bad for you because it is high in fructose, the straight answer is: yes, it is bad for you. The higher the fiber content, however, the less bad it is. This is because the addition of fiber and protein slows the spike in blood glucose levels. Not to mention that fruit is loaded with nutrients not found in sweeteners.

  24. While the health impact of consuming corn syrup may be trivial, there are still the ethics of how this product is produced to consider. Farm subsidies, animal testing, genetic modification and environmental problems are also part of this debate. This is not unique to corn syrup, but its production is an emblem of how farming practices have gone terribly awry. As with any product, consumers should learn where this stuff comes from and what effects its production has upon the world around us.

  25. It might be a good idea to find out how HFCS is made, since it starts out as corn starch. Anything that needs caustic soda and hydrochloric acid to chemically alter it into a sweetener is off my diet.

  26. Nice article, especially for listing your sources (I had a high-school flash-back about primary and secondary sources, but that passed.)

    The real reason for demonizing HFCS is a phenomenon known as sugar addiction (although dependency would be a better word.) It turns out that when you add sugars into a diet, it can trigger the same receptors in the brain that are triggered by opioids. This leads to addictive behaviors in very short periods of time, causing test subjects to replace healthy foods in their diet with sugary and fatty foods.

    (You can find the study I pulled this from here:

    To take this one step further, note that junkies have to get more and more of their fix (an opioid compound) to get the same feeling.

    Now, doesn’t pretty much everything have HFCS in it? So pretty much every food has some addictive quality to it? Kind of scary? It sure does explain the obesity epidemic, doesn’t it?

    But, yeah, I enjoyed your article.

  27. Another thing, though everyone’s different – HFCS is a food craving trigger for me. I don’t have it, I eat less of everything. Ergo, I avoid it like the plague.

  28. HFCS is produced by treating GM corn with a series of 3 GM enzymes. Yummie!

    Nothing real, natural or healthy in this recipe (IMHO).

  29. wrybread – thank you for your unscientific, irrational, borderline worthless opinion.

    Any other anecdotal tales to describe your observances that you want to pass on?

  30. HFCS is first and foremost a cost-cutting filler product.

    It’s cheaper to use than cane sugar, so corporations cut corners.

    There’s a reason why sodas made with real sugar have loyal followings and demand premium prices — they taste significantly better. This isn’t just for fancy sodas — people seek out and stock up on name brand variations, like “Kosher Coke” and “Mexican Coke”, or “Dublin Dr Pepper”.

    HFCS a really highly processed food too. Cane & Beet Sugar is mostly produced by juicing, boiling, and crystalizing the source vegetables – there’s other stuff that goes on, but that’s the general ideas.

    HFCS is produced by milling corn, turning it into a slurry and then adding in 3 enzymes / chemicals to break it down.

    My point is this: you can make sugar in your kitchen. You make HFCS in a science lab.

  31. I think you are missing the entire point. It’s not the end-product, but the farming process. Factory farming of corn for HFCS and feed is an enormous problem.

  32. Another largely overlooked reason to use HFCS is that it is more shelf-stable than other comparable sugar syrups. As in, it is more willing to stay in solution with other ingredients than, say, actual cane sugar syrup. The upside for manufacturers is the shelf-life or products goes up. Maybe not good for consumers, but good for manufacturers.

    As for worrying about fructose, there is a small part of the population that has issues digesting fructose due to a something called “Fructose malabsorption”; basically it means that some people’s guts don’t release the enzymes needed to digest fructose and so it sits in your intestine and ferments and makes you sick. It’s a lot like some forms of lactose intolerance.

    In HFCS formulation it where the amount of fructose is balanced with a near equal amount of other sugar it is usually fine, but many products are now moving to mixtures with more fructose which can cause those of us with this issue some, how you say, “internal discomfort”.


    My dislike and avoidance of HFCS is based upon the theory that glucose and fructose, while metabolized similarly, bind with necessary receptors in different ways. When blood levels of glucose drop, you get hungry. Fructose does not have the same effect. See post above for summary of rat model studies; summary is HFCS is not ftw.

    Turns out HFCS 55 is 55% fructose and 42% glucose, where as sucrose is 50% each. This means that HFCS has 31% more fructose for the same amount of glucose, which is 31% more sugar that you will consume with the same amount of hunger repression. This is bad.

    1. Yes. You got me. I’m expecting a check from them shortly. They send it over by sexy, half-naked courier along with a pound of corn-sugar laden chocolates.

      MUCH better benefits than I get for being part of the global climate change cabal. Let me tell you.

  34. Fructose and glucose are very different. Glucose is nature’s store of energy. Any animal can process it easily in huge quantities. Fructose is not processed easily, must be broken down by the liver, and 30% is converted directly to fat.

    That being said, sucrose is one molecule of glucose bonded to one molecule of fructose – 50% fructose. 55% fructose HFCS is only slightly different, although it tastes much worse IMO.

    The obesity problem, as others indicate, is that there is sugar in everything. Our ancestors ate about 20g of sugar a day. A can of coke has 35g. The other main problem, solely in my opinion, is that we DRINK sugar in huge quantities. A map of diabetes incidence and a map of per-capita cola consumption are virtually indistinguishable. Obviously this doesn’t indicate causation, but Sugar: The Bitter Truth lecture below does.


    Not sure if the Princeton research is in “inconsistent results” category, but it’s somethng to read.

    “High-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are both compounds that contain the simple sugars fructose and glucose, but there [are] … clear differences between them… As a result of the manufacturing process for high-fructose corn syrup, the fructose molecules in the sweetener are free and unbound, ready for absorption and utilization. In contrast, every fructose molecule in sucrose that comes from cane sugar or beet sugar is bound to a corresponding glucose molecule and must go through an extra metabolic step before it can be utilized.”

    And to the person who asked if 100% fruit juice is evil, well, no, but neither is soda. They are yummy for sure, but neither is particularly good for you.

    1. Those Princeton results were inconsistent. And they’re questioned by sources I trust. You can read more about it in that link from the New York Times.

      Important thing to remember here: One study (especially if the study is small, inconsistent, in a test tube or animal, or examines pure compounds rather than those found in everyday life) is really just a call for more studies. There have been lots of situations where one study found something that others never replicated.

  36. How dare you write such balanced, non-partisan trash.
    I demand an immediate retraction, followed by an editorial on how HFCS causes cancer, financial collapse and elevated levels of terrorism, and why the FDA should ban it immediately.

    Yours in a piquant (unsweetened) tomato sauce.

  37. +1 on the Pollan count

    Calling HFCS itself evil is akin to calling gasoline evil; the impact of production and consumption, not the things themselves, are where the true evils lie, and in both cases, we should be using less anyhow.

  38. Two recent studies out of Stanford published earlier this year compared sugar and HFCS consumption in rats – given equal caloric intake, the rats that consumed HFCS gained 48 percent more weight than those without, with a specific increase in abdominal fat and higher circulating triglycerides. From the abstract:

    “Rats with 12-h access to HFCS gained significantly more body weight than animals given equal access to 10% sucrose, even though they consumed the same number of total calories, but fewer calories from HFCS than sucrose.”

    This seems dramatically contrary to the “HFCS is no worse than any other sugar, the real problem is too much sugar of any kind” argument. Full abstract is here:

    1. Have you even looked at the numbers in the study?

      Summary of experiments, diets and final body weight.
      Experiment Diet End point body
      weight (g)
      Experiment 1
      Males: 8 weeks
      1. 24-h HFCS + ad libitum chow 470 ±7
      2. 12-h HFCS + ad libitum chow 502 ±11?
      3. 12-h sucrose + ad libitum chow 477 ±9
      4. Ad libitum chow 462±12

      Experiment 2
      Females: 7 months
      1. 24-h HFCS + ad libitum chow 355 ±12
      2. 12-h HFCS + 12-h chow 323 ±9
      3. 12-h sucrose + 12-h chow 333 ±10
      4. Ad libitum chow 328 ±10

      If anything, this demonstrates that eating a whole lot of sugar (be it sucrose or HFCS) does lead to weight gain. In rats.

  39. Corn syrup itself isn’t to blame. The real problem, which is economic and social, is the fact people insist on drinking up to 2 liters or more of soda, and the accompanying corn syrup, per day. As usual it is personal choice within a market context that is at fault, not whatever is the fear du jour.

  40. 1. HFCS and other sugars are chemically the same. There is no difference, the problem is that sugar in general is bad for you.

    2. It’s not the free market responsible for corn sweeteners. Corn is heavily subsidized by America. There is a deliberate and effective push to make corn cheaper via non-free means.

    3. Fructose and glucose are metabolized differently. Fructose is not utilized by the body before it is necessarily broken down by the liver creating LDL (bad cholesterol) as a byproduct and ruining the hormone systems which control fat and metabolism. Fructose is not just “empty calories,” that would imply that your body uses it the same as other calories.

    4. Citing articles that say fructose is the same as sugar then concluding “the jury is out” about the safety of HFCS is irresponsible. It’s clear that sugar is very very bad for you. The differences between traditional sugar and HFCS may be statistically unclear (or nonexistent), but HFCS is, like sugar, still very very bad for you, and it is not at all necessary in our diet. The problem is not the changing source of our dietary fructose from sugar to HFCS, rather the increased intake of fructose.

    Good video about the subject:

    1. #68: On point 1, no, HFCS and sugar are not chemically the same. Sugar, sucrose, is a disaccharide of fructose and glucose. The simple sugars are bound together into a single molecule that can’t be directly absorbed and used by the body, it has to be broken down by enzymes (that the body can control) before it can be absorbed. HFCS, by contrast, is a solution of monosaccharides, fructose and glucose already separated and ready to be absorbed directly. The body has no real way to control their absorption.

      Saying HFCS and sugar are chemically the same is like saying that a 2:1 mix of gaseous hydrogen and oxygen is chemically the same as an equal amount of water: all you have to do is put a match to both to get a graphic demonstration of why they’re not.

  41. It tastes worse too. Wait for Kosher Coke (made with cane sugar)to compare against regular Coke with High Fructose Corn Syrup. It’s also another reason honey doesn’t taste as good, it’s added because it’s cheaper.

  42. Maggie, I will agree with the first part of point number 1, too much sugar is bad for you, no matter what kind.
    But I’ll take a stand against the second part, which is that HFCS is only bad because its the cheapest one, and that’s because the only reason this article exists is because of the proposed name change for HFCS.

    The truth is that HFCS has had a bad reputation for longer than a couple of weeks, but it seems that with “big corn” trying to change the name, which would make it hard for people to spot it on the shelf, there is considerable debate as to how bad it really is.

    While we’re talking about how good HFCS is, when the name change comes, all this debate will be meaningless since most people, will not know that it applies to whatever new name gets approved, like: stbobyealoibirg (sugar that’s bad only because you eat a lot of it but it’s really good).

    The real question, is, how informed are you about your food choices, and why do companies try so hard to make sure you’re not informed.

  43. Two facts:

    1) if you look at a graph of obesity in America, it increases pretty directly with the growing adoption of high speed internet access.

    2) I cut out high speed internet about a year ago and right away lost a good 15 pounds, and kept it off even though I use a modem still, just ones without high speed access.

    I’m about 100% convinced that high speed internet is completely responsible for obesity in America and, as it spreads to other countries, there too.

    And besides it tastes like crap.

  44. News flash people, bread contains sugar.

    It HAS to. Otherwise you’d have a lump of dough that would never rise. The yeast has to eat something in order to produce the CO2 to make it rise. Be it sugar, HFCS, or even honey.

    I love it when people say I cut out HFCS and lost so much weight, that has to be the reason I was fat…. You know that works up until the point where you simply cut out probably 25-40% of your daily calorie intake. That’s why you lost weight, it wasn’t cause of the evil corn syrup.

    Replace all that HFCS you cut out with pure organic non hormone butter and see how that effects your weight. Hell it’s not even a carb! You should be fine right?!

    I’m not saying HFCS isn’t bad for you in large quantities. (Which one can easily obtain in a couple sodas a day.) I’m saying anything in large quantities is going to be bad for most Americans (like me) who have a less than physical life style.
    My parents both grew up on the farm. They ate bacon, eggs, grits, toast, ect… for breakfast. And they both were fairly thin. Then again the also went to school and worked in the field 6-8 hours a day. I’m sure their diet was well over 2000 calories a day, but they burned it all off. The same concept is applied to the military. That’s why MRE’s are loaded with calories. And Micheal Phelps can eat 5000 calories a day and still have an 8 pack.

    I don’t know about tasting bad. I grew up on Mt. Dew so I can’t tell you the difference between Coke or Pepsi… I do like the taste of a real sugar Dew somewhat better than the HFCS version. I think it has to do with the citrus flavor being more pronounced with the real sugar (perhaps it taste “less” sweet than the HFCS version).

    1. You’re making a very obvious point, but I can tell you my caloric intake is significantly higher now than when I ate HFCS.

      I know you’re going to scoff, but trust me, I’m a binger, and a programmer, and what’s there to do when programming except eat crappy food. I eat more than ever and crappier than ever, just much less HFCS.

    2. News flash people, bread contains sugar. It HAS to. Otherwise you’d have a lump of dough that would never rise. The yeast has to eat something in order to produce the CO2 to make it rise. Be it sugar, HFCS, or even honey.

      Errr… have you ever actually MADE bread? I’ve made hundreds of loaves, and I’ve never made one with sugar, or honey, or high-fructose corn syrup, or agave nectar or anything like that. Yes, of course “yeast has to eat something:” it eats FLOUR. Yeast digests flour just fine, thank you.

      The only bread recipe I’ve used in the last two years contains just flour, water, salt and yeast. Just four ingredients. No sugars.

      1. Flour has starch, and starch is a sugar.
        Specifically, starch is a polymerized form of glucose.

        And wouldn’t this thread be better if people referred to the chemical substances by their formulas, like H2O for water? Oh wait…I don’t know how to make sub-script numbers…but sucrose is C12H22O11, fructose is C6H12O6, etc.

        1. Flour has starch, and starch is a sugar.

          No, starch is a carbohydrate. The link you just gave says exactly that, if you had read it. No where does it say that “starch is a sugar.” You may as well say that cellulose “is a sugar.” It’s not. It’s made up of sugars. This is different.

          The Wikipedia article on Sugars says “Chemistry: Scientifically, sugar loosely refers to a number of carbohydrates, such as monosaccharides, disaccharides, or oligosaccharides,” and oligosaccharides are saccharide polymers containing “a small number (typically three to ten[1]) of component sugars” and the link there goes to

          To simplify: “sugars” refers to simple sugars.

          It would have been obvious what I had meant if you bothered to read the comment that I was quoting, which said “News flash people, bread contains sugar. It HAS to. […] Be it sugar, HFCS, or even honey.”

          The notion that “bread must contain sugar, such as [table] sugar, HFCS, or ‘even honey'” clearly implies that the poster was considering simple sugars. This was the misconception that I was addressing.

          1. True. The sub-units are sugars: snip the links of the starch’s polymer chain, and you’ve got a pile of glucose molecules.

          2. Yes, if they are cleaved… A sugar is a carb, but a carb is not a sugar until it has been cleaved, chomped, nibbled, or otherwise broken into pieces.

          3. Hello, what is it that you’re arguing? Is it that you actually agree with the original commentator’s belief that “sugar must always be added when making bread,” (and thus defending the use of HFCS in manufactured bread)? If not, then you just randomly saw some minor point in someone else’s discussion, didn’t bother following the thread, thought you could use it to engage in some pontless science one-upsmanship, and even when shown wrong you wouldn’t drop it, and it still had nothing to do with high-fructose corn syrup.

          4. Yeasts must reduce the starch to its component sugars to metabolise them…a poly-saccharide is a saccharide, nonetheless.


            You don’t need to add sugar to make bread: the yeasts break down the poly-saccharides to get at the sugar sub-units which make up the starch chains.

          5. While a starch maybe made of sugars, they are not a sugar. Flour is not a sugar. Thus, Sugar is not required to be added to bread for the magic to work.

            Also, I am not certain the yeast breaks down the starches into sugars. If you have a link to this I’d love it. Sugar is created in the dough by mixing water and letting the enzymatic action of
            amylase ((alpha and beta) which area present in flour)convert the starches into sugars. Its very similar, again, to the the action that takes place in a nice wart.

          6. Again, it seems the terminology has tripped me up.
            The yeast needs sugar, not starch: and you are correct, it is the amylase that does the work of cleaving the starch into sugars.
            But at that point, there is sugar in the mix, usable by the yeast. The starch transforms into the sugar, in a real sense.
            Wardish’s comment #174 is fascinating as well, in that it implies that the enzymatic breakdown of sugars in digestion – which also regulates, in part, the rate at which the sugars are taken up in the bloodstream – does not occur in the digestion of corn syrup.
            That seems to me to be the key to the differing health effects: the differing types of simple sugars do not actually share the same mechanism for their digestion and uptake, regardless of how similar they taste.

        2. That notation doesn’t work very well for carbohydrates, where many different types have the same atoms in different configurations. C6H12O6 covers both glucose and fructose; C12H22O11 could be sucrose, maltose, lactose, or many others. When chemists discuss them, they usually use their names, or abbreviations like Glu.

        3. And wouldn’t this thread be better if people referred to the chemical substances by their formulas, like H2O for water? Oh wait…I don’t know how to make sub-script numbers…but sucrose is C12H22O11, fructose is C6H12O6, etc.

          Glucose: C6H12O6
          Galactose: C6H12O6
          Fructose: C6H12O6

          Sucrose: C12H22O11
          Lactose: C12H22O11
          Maltose: C12H22O11

          Much clearer. Of course, biochemists would wine that glucose and galactose behave differently in the body, and a few smart alecks would point out that even “Glucose” elides over chirality, but we know better.

      2. Thank you, SamSam!

        I’ll second that: bread does not need added sugar for any reason other than making sweeter bread. Yeast eats flour, which has plenty of nice yummy carbohydrates in it already. And, unless your flour has been sterilized, the flour already has yeast on it. So really, to make bread, you need flour, water, time, and effort. Realistically, the four ingredients of bread are flour, water, salt, and yeast.

        I’m not crazy about this debate, mostly because it feels like we’re arguing without enough data. And I’m extremely leery of the argument that because two things are chemically similar their effect on the body is the same. That’s the basis behind a lot of food legislation (or lack thereof) and it shows a real lack of understanding of (or concern for) the amazing complexity that is the human body. We don’t understand everything about how our bodies work – not even close really. Vitamin pills are not a good substitute for vitamins from food, for example.

        Marion Nestle’s points about the “inconsistent” results of the Princeton study are really just evidence that Marion Nestle isn’t good at interpreting science. Her problem is that the rats with 12-hour access to sugar were not significantly different in results from the rats with 24-hour access to sugar. She also uses a lot of raw numbers, trying, I think, to give the impression that what appear to be small differences can’t possibly matter.

        The scientists in question found a variety of results, yes. That happens a lot, nature being generally quite complicated and hard to predict. However, their findings were significant at p < .05, which is standard, and their methodology appeared sound to me. My own reaction to this study is not "HFCS is evil," but it's also not "this study should be disregarded." The study's findings lead me to believe that at least in rats, HFCS is processed differently than sucrose in a way that increases weight gain. The mechanism the experiment points toward is that it stimulates appetite, or at least does not suppress it. Human studies are hard to do for a very long list of reasons, not least of which is that if a substance is potentially harmful to someone's health it's difficult to ethically test it on people. Hence, rats. They're actually crazily similar to us in terms of diet. Certainly I'm more interested in "this is what happened when rats ate this" than in "it should be the same because it's chemically similar."

        1. Thank you, SamSam!

          I’ll second that: bread does not need added sugar for any reason other than making sweeter bread. Yeast eats flour, which has plenty of nice yummy carbohydrates in it already. And, unless your flour has been sterilized, the flour already has yeast on it. So really, to make bread, you need flour, water, time, and effort. Realistically, the four ingredients of bread are flour, water, salt, and yeast.

          I’m not crazy about this debate, mostly because it feels like we’re arguing without enough data. And I’m extremely leery of the argument that because two things are chemically similar their effect on the body is the same. That’s the basis behind a lot of food legislation (or lack thereof) and it shows a real lack of understanding of (or concern for) the amazing complexity that is the human body. We don’t understand everything about how our bodies work – not even close really. Vitamin pills are not a good substitute for vitamins from food, for example.

          Marion Nestle’s points about the “inconsistent” results of the Princeton study are really just evidence that Marion Nestle isn’t good at interpreting science. Her problem is that the rats with 12-hour access to sugar were not significantly different in results from the rats with 24-hour access to sugar. She also uses a lot of raw numbers, trying, I think, to give the impression that what appear to be small differences can’t possibly matter.

          The scientists in question found a variety of results, yes. That happens a lot, nature being generally quite complicated and hard to predict. However, their findings were significant at p
          Argh, lost a paragraph to a less-than symbol, losing serious geek points now… please insert this after “significant at p”:

          “less than .05, which is standard, and their methodology appeared sound to me. My own reaction to this study is not “HFCS is evil,” but it’s also not “this study should be disregarded.” The study’s findings lead me to believe that at least in rats, HFCS is processed differently than sucrose in a way that increases weight gain. The mechanism the experiment points toward is that it stimulates appetite, or at least does not suppress it.”

  45. “4) One of the sweeteners that has way more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup: Agave nectar. It’s somewhere between 70% and 87% fructose, while most of the high-fructose corn syrup you’ll run into is only 55% fructose. Other natural sweeteners, like honey and apple sugar, are also in the range of around 50% fructose.”

    Yes you repeat the marketing speak – but making this comparison is the same as saying Salt is the same as Cyanide because they both have Sodium.

    Compounds are not their elements – any attempt to associate them is just confusion to the discussion

    1. Yes you repeat the marketing speak – but making this comparison is the same as saying Salt is the same as Cyanide because they both have Sodium.

      Compounds are not their elements – any attempt to associate them is just confusion to the discussion

      Yes, but that’s not what she said. She wasn’t comparing the elements, she was comparing the compounds. So why do you say “compounds are not their elements.

      Agave nectar contains more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup. And it’s not like there’s a whole lot else in there that could mitigate it’s effect: it’s between 70% and 87% pure fructose. And the method of extraction is exactly as bad and industrial as the method of extracting the fructose in corn syrup.

      What, you think the fructose molecules are different somehow when they come out of an agave plant instead of a corn plant? Fructose is fructose. That’s not at all the same as someone saying “Salt is Cyanide.”

      Do you have any evidence for your implication that agave nectar is somehow different from HFCS, besides the fact that they sell agave nectar at Whole Foods in pretty green bottles?

  46. You’ve got a couple journals/articles cited; how about a giant book with about 200 pages of references?

    The biggest problem with HFCS is the same problem with bread, pasta, and other processed grains — it’s super-easy to get a ton of calories. Medieval peasants drank beer for its calories because their normal diet was generally all fibrous vegetables and proteins, but we don’t have those problems now — carbohydrates are everywhere. A Panera sandwich has more calories than a Whopper thanks to the bread and sauces, yet most people consider it “healthier.”

    There is something to be said about eating carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains, but in general the problem with obesity and health simply comes down to the ease of consuming a ton of calories. HFCS is in a lot of things because it’s cheap, but a lot of people don’t like tart, sour, or rough foods — crazy, I know! Some people like pasta sauce that’s sweet, fluffy bread that’s sweet, and so on. They’re the ones happy to buy breads made with HFCS, honeys, and so on, because they have a sweet tooth. They’re also the ones eating too many cookies, cakes, and other desserts. A homemade cookie may not have any HFCS but it’s still bad for you.

    1. I respectfully disagree. I can tell you that there have been two times in my life that I lost significant amounts of weight without dieting or exercising. The first time was when I stopped drinking diet sodas made with NutraSweet. A physician way back in the 80’s warned me that diet soda was bad and contributed to weight gain. It only took them, what, 35 years to release a study that backs it up? No calories in diet soda so there goes that theory. The second time, was when I gave up high fructose corn syrup. And replaced it with regular energy drinks made with sucrose and glucose. No calorie deficit there. Bottom line I don’t need a study, I know what has worked for me. Interesting that both NutraSweet and CORN both come from Monsanto. I don’t eat corn anymore either, but do enjoy plenty of bread, potatoes, full fat butter, sour cream, milk, olive oil you name it. I don’t diet, but I don’t use any artificial sweeteners and that includes corn syrup, Splenda, NutraSweet, nada. So, to those who are having great luck losing weight by eliminating corn syrup, good for you and I have had the same experience.

  47. Hi, I work for BP. Can you please write an article that says: “Scientists discover that leaked oil is actually soothing and beneficial to pelicans and other sea birds”?

  48. Furthermore what bothers me about HFCS is all the mind-fucking going on by the corn industry. For example, this ad:

    And the countless “studies” they commission, and all the astroturfing they do, and all the guerilla marketing and other dirty trucks. And every time a newspaper runs an article questioning whether we should be consuming so much HFCS they always have to publish a letter to the editor chastising them the next day.

    I can’t prove it, but I’d bet they were the ones that made that Princeton study sound worthless.

    The opposition really doesn’t have much to fight with, especially considering the stakes. To me, I think the stakes are that an industry is absolutely poisoning this country (America) and stifling any opposing viewpoints with dirty tricks.

      1. One of the authors of the study clarifies some of her misunderstandings in the comments section of her blog.

        She has updated to point to them.

        His conclusion? A diet with 8% HFCS makes rats fat while 10% sucrose does not. Sounds like it is more likely to cause obesity, at least in rats.

  49. Yes, it’s probably not the devil, but just to be sure I’m only drinking soft drinks made with holy water.

  50. Mercury in HFCS is a myth. Always check your facts. It was found in contaminated batches, its not something you will find in HFCS as a matter of course. This sort of contamination also happens with table sugar.

    Studies on sugar and HFCS have not to date been conclusive on the subject of wght gain. The facts are just not in on this. Sorry kids.

    HFCS is created THE SAME WAS BEER IS. Enzyme break down the starches into fructose and glucose. This isnt some spooky chemical proceess; and can occur naturally, without mans intervention.

    Sucrose is made of fructose and glucose, which are cleaved in two by the same Enzymatic action.

    Table sugar IS HIGHLY PROCESSED. Its not just pressed and boiled. Caustic soda is used in the processing and other crap. You can find plenty of residual chemicals involved in the entire process left over in the final ingredient. btw, sugar is produced in a factory, like every other product we consume.

    Both sugar and HFCS can be produced at home, on the stove top.

    Obesity in america started not with the adding of HFCS… (and correlation is not causation anyways.) Fast food and dining out werent what they are today. Back then it was special and infrequent. Now its part of peoples every day lives. Same with Soda. You didnt have lunchables, or all these convenience food items. You also didnt have paranoid parents who dont let their kids go out to play, or video games.

    Too much sugar is bad for you; and HFCS is just another sugar. People who demonize it are mostly idiots and hippies. TO pull something out of their play book… DO YOU PEOPLE WORK FOR THE SUGAR INDUSTRY OR WHAT?

    I’m not sure what jackass decided that sugar or HFCS should be in pasta sauce… Thank god classico doesnt have it.

    1. Table sugar IS HIGHLY PROCESSED. Its not just pressed and boiled.

      No, but you have just described evaporated cane juice. For my money, it tastes and cooks just like sugar. Color is a bit off (light brown) but that doesn’t bug me.

  51. Wow, reading these comments is very depressing. I would have thought BB’ers would be a little more enlightened.

    The comments on this page almost sound like a political argument. Maggie’s post is well reasoned, decently supported, and sensible. Very liberal.

    The “HFCS *is* the devil crowd” is arguing on faith and anecdotes and is built on fear. Very republican.

  52. Maggie

    Sure, high fructose corn syrup is not inherently evil. Neither, technically, is radioactive water. But to try and artificially separate these substances from their economic and environmental contexts is not helping anyone, and makes these topics into semantical games.
    And technically, you’re not accurate: the term “high fructose corn syrup” was created to market this specific substance, and therefore, the term itself is specifically tied to economics. Your post misses this point.
    In all honesty, between this post and the recent “microbes have eaten most of the oil form the bP oil spill” Boing Boing is putting out some very sloppy and inaccurate posts recently. You guys can do better.

  53. Isn’t there something about HFCS taking longer to produce feelings of fullness, thereby prolonging appetite response and increasing chances that people will eat too much of the stuff? Compared with cane sugar, for example?

    I know I feel fuller quicker when I drink my yearly Mexican Coke compared to American Coke, for example.

  54. Did no one take note of this?


    HFCS 55 (the commonly used one, according to wikipedia) is 55% fructose and 42% glucose, while sucrose is 50% fructose and 50% glucose. This means that HFCS has 31% more fructose for the same amount of glucose, which is 31% more sugar that you will consume with the same amount of hunger repression. This is bad.

    31% MORE SUGAR = bad.

    AND it is absorbed directly and immediately into the blood stream, versus the disaccharide sucrose. Very bad for maintaining even and balanced blood sugar and insulin levels, which is doublebad.

      1. Everyone seems to agree, more sugar/carbohydrate in your diet is bad.

        The interesting thing that people seem to be missing, is that not all sugars are equal. I repeat, not all forms of carbohydrates and sugars are equal.

        Complex carbohydrates and disaccharides are handled by the body in different ways than simple monosaccharides. I think it is understood that complex carbohydrates are better for your health because they require enzymatic cleavage, which is a slow release of simple sugars into your bloodstream. This is good for your bodies natural regulatory pathways (see: insulin).

        Furthermore, once broken down into glucose and fructose, the two most common monosaccharides, the two molecules are metabolized differently and more importantly, only glucose acts to suppress hunger. Studies show that the “hungry feeling” occurs when the glucose level in your blood becomes low; as far as I know, fructose has no effect on this pathway. Therefore, consuming sugars with higher fructose composition would result in more carbohydrates being consumed before you felt satiated. This is, of course, a gross oversimplification.

        The main error that everyone is making is the assumption that all sugar molecules are equal. From complex carbohydrates, to simple sugars, to the specific molecular composition, they are all handled differently.

  55. yeah, I think it’s about (1) the liver concern, and (2) the research showing that its effects on appetite/consumption (of the HFCS-containing item) are disproportionate and a little scary…

  56. HFCS is not necessarily the devil, either is sugar. All things in moderation. However I do not think the supports linked in this article could really result in the conclusion the HFCS=all other sugars.

    My main beef with corn syrup is it pervasiveness and its link with the overproduction and overuse of corn.

  57. “Too much sugar is bad for you; and HFCS is just another sugar. People who demonize it are mostly idiots and hippies. TO pull something out of their play book… DO YOU PEOPLE WORK FOR THE SUGAR INDUSTRY OR WHAT?”

    No one says sugar is good for you. What do Atkins (the diet) and the Japanese diet have in common (hint – one has tons of carbs (rice) and the other has almost none) – they both are super low in sugar.

    HFCS on the other hand is *not* sugar – it breaks down in the system differently.

    “Both sugar and HFCS can be produced at home, on the stove top.” – so can Botulism – what’s your point?

    “Table sugar IS HIGHLY PROCESSED” – no one is talking about the process of making HFCS – we are talking about the fact that it enters the blood stream in a different metabolic process than table sugar and as such creates huge swings in blood sugar levels that ‘table sugar’ does not cause – and even table sugar is bad – but HFCS is much worse.

    “Studies on sugar and HFCS have not to date been conclusive on the subject of wght gain. The facts are just not in on this. Sorry kids.” – This is what the tobacco industry said for years.

    “Obesity in america started not with the adding of HFCS”

    You can see the rise happened at the same time HFCS hit the market – note that this happened in children – before video games became big.

    Or in other words.

    “Always check your facts”

  58. lol. bcsizemo brings a good point. Bread has to contain sugar. Why, I use a teaspoon in every loaf of bread I make. That’s right, a teaspoon, to give the yeast a lot of energy to wake up; it then decomposes purely starches. I use more salt in most loaves. I’m not 100% on the chemistry, so perhaps compounds decompose to sugars when baking, but you don’t need to add more than a tablespoon or so to proof the yeast, unless you’re making a sweet bread. In other words, sugar is the least common ingredient in most of my breads. Flour, water or milk, salt, maybe some butter, sugar, in order of weight. Oh, do people not realize that bread shouldn’t have 30 ingredients?

    I knew when I saw this article there would be a clamor of people who want to be victims and not just people responsible for their own actions. My thirst for watching people disavow personal responsibility for the day has been sated. It’s HFCS not sugars in general. There’s no way that sugars from sugar cane or beets will adversely affect your health.

  59. “Do you have any evidence for your implication that agave nectar is somehow different from HFCS, besides the fact that they sell agave nectar at Whole Foods in pretty green bottles?”

    I don’t imply that agave nectar is different than HFCS – I don’t know anything about agave nectar.

    I am saying that calling HFCS a mixture of Fructose and Glucose is the same as saying Salt is Sodium and Chloride.

    They don’t matter to the argument of if the resulting compound is bad for you.

  60. Facts that seem to be ignored:

    1. Sucrose is a chemical compound of glucose and fructose. HFCS is a _mixture_ of fructose and glucose. Saying that they are equivalent is similar to saying that sodium metal and chlorine gas are “equivalent” to table salt.

    2. Glucose can be absorbed directly by nearly any body tissue. You can rub corn syrup on your skin and get some caloric uptake. So the blood sugar impact from glucose is fast and severe. Not so with fructose or the sugar alcohols (xylitol, etc), or even sucrose (common table sugar).

    3. HFCS definitely tastes different than sucrose.

    It has to. It isn’t sucrose.

    Fructose tastes different than sucrose, and glucose (corn syrup) tastes different than sucrose.

    This is a test that anyone can try — straight fructose is available at places like Whole Foods.

    If you survey “Super Foods” lists from the Mayo Clinic, etc., the top-rated fruits tend to be fructose-heavy.

    From these facts I conclude that the “devil” is glucose, in the form of corn syrup. The use of plain corn syrup as a sweetener correlates very well with the use of HFCS — the same economic advantages (low cost) promote its use. HFCS was created because straight corn syrup is a mediocre sweetener.

  61. Am I the only one that gets reminded of the Tobacco industry in the past with the current Corn industry. They are using some of the same shady tactics. “Hey look this study we funded had a result favorable to us! Imagine that!”

  62. Maggie,

    I don’t understand why you don’t even attempt to address the disaccharide vs monosaccharide issue. These arguments seem very reasonable.

    Also, I look forward to follow-up studies based on the Princeton study. Clearly there are unanswered questions here and somebody ought to be looking to make a name for themselves in this area by doing a study that addresses any concerns from the Princeton research.

    Finally, the fact that you can’t taste the difference is shocking to me. Aren’t you the one always trying out new and exotic fruits? Yet you can’t tell the difference between cane sugar Coke and HFCS Coke? Use your taste buds!

  63. The issue isn’t the amount of sugar. The issue is, it’s a refined sugar not available naturally. HFCS is a man-made modified sugar. The body deals with it much differently than normal fructose, etc.

    Anyway, good points in the article.

    There is no single bullet that ‘proves’ anything. It’s always the sum of many things. HFCS being 1 to add to the pile.

  64. Nice to see a couple of recommendations for the Dr Robert Lustig video. It IS long, but highly worth a watch. There’s a sciencey bit in the middle which may confuse some a little, but I’ve checked the metabolic pathways, and his conclusions are correct.

    A couple of points:

    1. Fructose is not just another sugar. It is one of the sugars, but is metabolised differently, mostly by the liver. If you have a high HFCS diet, even if you are tee-total, you will have a cirrhotic liver and it may kill you. If the diabetes, gout and other stuff doesn’t first.

    2. Observing obesity in 6 month old children is not anecdotal evidence. Dr Lustig is seeing this more and more often in his clinics. This is partly due to milk formula having a large HFCS content, but also high intake of HFCS sodas by nursing mothers.

    3. Look at the science. I thank Maggie for bringing this to BB, but some of the comments here seem to be politically motivated. This could become a massive problem in the US, then the rest of us. Let’s not be sidetracked by the industry specialists or those with an agenda. Let’s look at the science.

    4. I recommend Lustig’s video as a starting point. Yes, he has an axe to grind. He’s seeing obese babies for the first time in his life.

    5. Kids don’t choose this stuff, it’s everywhere. Parents should be aware that there are choices and make them on behalf of their children.

  65. Maggie, I don’t know if you are in the “personal experimentation provides data” or “anecdotal evidence is THE WORK OF THE DEVIL FROTH SPUME RANT” camp, so I tender my own observations with some trepidation.

    I gave up HFCS, among other things, about ten years ago. I have a high-protein, low-carb diet with some exceptions (I don’t eat potatoes, but I eat breads with extremely high fiber content, for example). I get most of my sugars from drinking 100% fruit juice, which I drink a LOT of. So I’m getting way more fructose than “high-fructose” corn syrup would be giving me, but very few other sugars, and less sugar overall than I was before.

    I lost 30 pounds as soon as I went on this diet, and then my weight stabilized and has remained so ever since. I didn’t change the amount I exercise at any point.

    Overall, I think you are right; sweets make you fat and unhealthy. The differences between various sweeteners are liable to be miniscule when weighed against the benefits of reducing intake of sweets and easily convertible starches, which are very nearly equivalent to sugar. You can replace with proteins if you need to (but don’t replace with fats – not unless you know you have the genes for it) but it’s really better to just get used to eating less or exercising more.

  66. This article is representative of a common, annoying cycle in which X-thing is derided publicly by an expert or series of experts who do know what they are talking about, which leads to the spread of acceptance that X-thing is bad. Then the literature re: X-thing spreads, usually as written by non-experts who misinterpret the relevant “why”, or at least the supporting evidence. Myths and misinformation arise from the ensuing void until there’s a backlash, not against the actual reasons why X-thing is bad, but against the myths and misinformation that followed the crap, lazy journalism. It’s all a grand cycle of missing the point.

  67. Reads like the usual industry astroturf — say it isn’t bad, say studies have differing results, dodge responsibility for the surge in obesity that coincided with its introduction, and do a left-field mention Agave nectar. By the numbers. Go smoke a healthy cigarette.

  68. The blog entry is inaccurate in saying that maple syrup has only 1% fructose. The main sugar in maple syrup is sucrose (i.e. “table sugar”), which is a bonding of fructose + glucose in a 50/50 mix. When you consume the sucrose, the fructose and the glucose are broken apart, and it is just the same as eating raw fructose and glucose. So it would be more accurate to say that maple syrup has 50% fructose…

  69. I didn’t expect trans-fats to be bad from a purely chemical perspective and they ended up worse than what they replaced. Now with sugar we already know that how its chained together is important and not just what the individual sugars are. You can eat bread which is a chained up string of sugars(complex carbohydrate) that is slowly broken down without getting a high but eat enough sugar and you feel the buzz. So there is a speed issue. HFCS is not just corn syrup which I wouldn’t have a problem with. It has been modified so that the sugars are individual units and there is a lot of fructose so that’s different than what occurs in nature where there tend to be chains of things. Even table sugar is two simple sugars glued together. Now all of these things get recognized by the body and there are specific transporters for things like glucose and fructose and they are not interchangeable so things like insulin which is really important in sugar metabolism are not equivalent between the two. So there is an intrinsic possibility that one will be worse than the other although we have no proof in favor of either right now. My argument is this—we have evolved to deal with natural sugars whether good or bad we have millions of years of evolution which are going to let us survive in their presence—its possible that HFCS is equal or better than this but why not go with the sure bet. Why take a chance. I don’t actively avoid HFCS but I tend to cook rather than microwave so I figure that’s good enough to reduce the major sources and my daily can of pop has been replaced with a juice/sparkling water blend. I don’t live in fear of it but why consume more than necessary if there are good alternatives.

  70. If you have any doubts about the deleterious effects of HFCS, watch this video. It’s must-see viewing for anyone even remotely interested in the issue.

  71. Oh, how lovely, now I’ve got something to link to whenever someone asserts that boingboing’s community is less knee-jerk and reactionary than Fox News. And it isn’t even political!

  72. I am fairly surprised to see a normal tit-for-tat comment thread from this group on this topic. The dismissive nature of the post assumes ready access to alternative food supplies. While suburbanites have farmers markets springing up all around, most of the poor in this country have little to no access to anything without excess sugar and fat in it.

    I used to think the work of Dr. David Kessler(Former FDA Commissioner)- The End of Overeating was a bunch of junk, too. Then I started to look at the caloric content of food at mid-priced chain restaraunts. Check out some of your neighborhood bar and grill foods and ponder how it could be possible to fit so many calories and so much fat into one baked potato.

    The food industry is turning a basic essential (food) into an addiction. There is no reasonable explanation for the surreptitious inclusion of HFCS in every product. Their are chemical signals in the brain that make the product more attractive- leading to overeating and lack of satisfaction.

  73. I pointed out you can make sugar and HFCS on your stove because people seem to think it is some scary chemical process. It’s not. Its also a natural process, as natural as mashing for beer.

    Nierd, as for your time line link; correlation is not causation. Try again.

    Agava nector is 56% fructose and 20% glucose… Sugar is sugar dude… What is this messed up “Salt is the same as Cyanide” crap you are talking about. Fructose has a specific atomic make up… Fructose is Fructose; no matter what source it comes from. This isnt marketing speak, its reality.

    As far as the liver thing… um… if it was real EVERYONE ONE OF USE IS GOING TO DIE FROM LIVER DISEASE. Anyone have charts that show an increase of liver disease they can make some vague connection to?

    Serious jumps look like they start in the 80s…

    Replacing HFCS (fructose and gluclose) with sucrose (bonded fructose and gluclose) isnt gonna make you thinner; but be my guess and try it.

    The reality is ppl are fat because they consume more calories than they burn.

    And yes, different sugars are metabolized differently in the body… but the fact remains, IN NATURE, THERE ARE PLENTY OF ITEMS HIGHER IN FRUCTOSE THAN HFCS…

    This liver thing… I wonder if its like when they locked rats into a box and blew pot smoke on them for 24 hours and declared pot kills brain cells.

    1. Well, your anger and bizzar-o desire to jump to the defense of Monsanto, ADM, and Con-Agra notwithstanding — I actually have several friends (more than 10, in fact) who have replaced HFCS in their diets with sugar and they have all lost between 10 and 20 pounds. They made no other change. Did they lower caloric intake? Yes, a little, mostly due (they say) to the insulin response they get from sugar and not from HFCS. So, go ahead and be a weird angry knee-jerk reactionary. I guess, if that makes you happy. Good work!

      Meanwhile, I’ll continue to not eat high fructose corn syrup as much as possible and not use ALL CAPS to “make a point”.

  74. Naturally occurring fructose in fruits and vegetables comes combined with a very high proportional percentage of fibre. Everywhere. Eating the cactus fruit ‘as a fruit’, not so bad. Just drinking the juice, maybe not so helpful.

    Sally599. In the US, because fructose is deemed ‘natural’, it’s ok to inject it into as much food as you like. The FDA says it’s natural, so it gets approved. Who comprises the FDA? I’m a Brit, so I’m interested to know.

    So, if it’s ‘natural’, can we also welcome alcoholic cereals, opium laced brownies and amphetamine soft drinks? Oh, wait a minute…….

    1. My point is that the body’s physiology knows how to handle certain foods because its been exposed to them for some time over millions of years. When it comes to alcohol, opium etc you are still talking about chemically refined products and not things that we’re encountering at natural levels. Nature doesn’t make 180 proof, you need to distill etc, that’s processing. A little bit of those products would be detoxified by the liver no problem. Even the cyanide occurring in fruit seeds is unlikely to kill you but at the same time a few of the wrong berries could kill you—that’s why we generally classify things as either good or bad to eat and all this was established a long time ago. People who can’t stop eating the berries die and the rest of humanity moves on. The problem is that things like HFCS don’t act like those berries—we don’t know until a long time after the entire population has been treated like guinea pigs. I generally don’t sweat it but if there is an alternative that looks more like something that you’d pull out of the earth or out of an animal I usually go with that choice. The reality is we’re lucky to even have these choices—historically people pretty much had to eat what was available and that diet probably horrible compared to modern standards.

  75. …can’t…get…to…keyboard…too..fat…from..HFCS….

    Maggie K-B,

    1) Diets high in sugars—all and any kinds of sugars—are bad for you. OK, I buy that. But I bet a case can be made for some of them being badder for you than others. HFCS? Dunno. But it’s definitely hard to trust Big Fake-ish Sugar…

    2) OK, cheap because it’s heavily subsidized. So, the US of A is helping to make us fat. Pretty much. That, and reality television.

    3) Linked to health problems? Dunno, jury’s out, I think (unless a terrific study proves otherwise). But versus corn syrup? Who said any corn syrup is “good”?

    4) Agave? How did that get into the argument? Can we look into if “chronic” Agave users are 23% fatter than HFCS largies? Seems like a redirection of the discussion.

    The part about obesity growing (sorry) in lockstep with the use of HFCS is interesting, altho’ not definitive. But, Maggie, I think you can admit that our history is full of terrific examples of Big Somebody (food, oil, government, medicine, etc. etc.) telling us that “all is well here and you are just nuts in thinking otherwise” about stuff where it turns out that the “scaremongers” were correct. Yes, and occasionally the scaremongers are nuts, as well, but in the meanwhile Big Whoever has completely cooked their collective credibility. So, when “we” come along and question HFCS and its effects on our health, ain’t that natural, as they say?
    Thalidomide is fine, smoking is not harmful for you (hell, they still say that one, occasionally), there’s no more oil from the spill in the Gulf, radium is great when taken internally, leeches are wonderful (oh, wait, that one’s true, never mind)…blah, blah, blah.
    HFCS? Hey, let’s relabel it. That’ll fix the credibility issue.



    – ItsAllGoodForYou

  76. It’s actually MUCH harder to trust the actual sugar industry. Over the last few decades they have tried some seriously dirty tricks to poison and pervert the truth on many artificial sweeteners. They fund some of the worse propaganda sites ever. being one of their larger ones in recent history. Theres people are dirty, filthy, protectionists with a clear agenda.

  77. Let me second Dr. Lustig’s commentary

    Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose (too much) and fiber (not enough) appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin. Series: UCSF Mini Medical School for the Public [7/2009] [Health and Medicine]

    Video here

  78. There is more science to this than “hey if you eat anything sugary, you’re going to be fat”. The fact of the matter ism HFCS is NOT processed by the body the same way sucrose/sugar is. That my friend, is a fact. And several studies/tests have consistently shown that consumption of foods that contain a HFCS equivalent amount of sweetener, rather than sugar, lead to more weight gain.

    Don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself. Stop consuming HFCS for 6 months and then tell me you don’t notice a difference. I’ve always been pretty healthy weight-wise…but in the last year I cut out HFCS and I lost weight fast and have kept it off. I am sporting a 4-pack at the moment and working on a nice 6-pack in the next few weeks. I drink sero soda…and am only buying products with real sugar. Not easy, let me tell you. Ideally, you don’t want too much sugar period but that’s another story altogether.

  79. I must say that Dr. Pepper made with sugar tastes so different from the same drink made with corn syrup that I honestly don’t know how they can call them the same thing.

    I too am bewildered at how much stuff has HCFS in it. Supposedly it makes sense because our distant ancestors were drawn to sweet things because the taste meant an easy to acquire burst of energy. But I don’t know if I go for that explanation as for why everything will sell better if it tastes sweet. It’s probably for the best that a “no HCFS” movement gets it out of things where it doesn’t make sense to begin with.

    Okay, back to your sciences.

  80. Sigh.

    It’s not simple. They’re molecules. No molecule is evil. But no molecule is simple. To assume that “these (sucrose and HFCS) can be interconverted and look real similar and could be assumed to be interchangable” does not work in the realm of biochemistry. It’s more complicated than you know. It’s more complicated than I know. Even the wise can’t see all ends. I suspect HFCS is likely a bad thing to have so ubiquitously in food, and research may make me look foolish, or it may bear me out. I was right on trans fats, while health experts still said margarine good, olive oil bad. On others (vitamin studies), my expectations were off. I still think it’s bizarre that no diet with artificial sweeteners has been shown to be that helpful with diabetes. I’ve read a lot of the literature. The Princeton study has not been debunked to my satisfaction. We’ll go round on this next time some research pops up. Till then, we don’t know, and assumption is the mother of fuckup. Keep your kids off the stuff till we know.

  81. Victory Sugar now has another Spinmaster stumping for it. Corn-syrup is perhaps a Chief Demon because of its ubiquitousness in drinks and all types of foods one wouldn’t expect to get diabetes from.

    1. Maybe not in a vodka shot, or a Skinny Bitch, but just you try asking your local bartender for the nutrition informatino of an Upside-Down Appletini. He’ll just look at you; he knows what’s in it but he ain’t saying.

      For all those who really think they can tell the difference between HCFS and sugar colas, I would encourage you to do a double blind taste test. Buy both varieties, have a friend pour them in a random order into numerically labeled shot glasses while you’re not watching, then leave the room. Try the shots and record your observations, then verify against the recorded order AFTER the fact. Anything else just invites confirmation bias.

      Me and Beelzebitch did just this a few weeks ago with Pepsi vs Throwback Pepsi. The only thing we could tell is one was very slightly sweeter, which turned out to be the Pepsi. Looking at the nutrition information, I’m more likely to attribute that to the 25% increase in Throwback’s salt content rather than any substantive difference in sweeteners.

      1. Did blind tests with Mexican Coke vs. HFCS Coke with every member of our family in multiple trials. In every trial but one, the Mexican Coke was identified and preferred. Experimental method was that one family member would pour the Cokes into identical glasses and put them on a paper with A or B on it, then leave the room. The subject would pick the one he or she preferred. Included trials with both glasses with same type of cola to see if and when we could tell a difference at all (that was the one misidentified, where one was picked as a preferred when they were both the same).

        Small sample group and small number of trials, but decent methodology for an ad hoc test.

        1. Good on ya for testing. The only things I’d like to point out are a) Mexican coke very probably uses a different recipe than US coke (same goes for European coke) and b) “preferred” isn’t a very useful descriptor. Was the preferred variety sweeter? Less sweet? More or less body/richness? When the labels come off is the best time to really qualify the difference in taste.

          1. Obviously, when you classify preference, you’re getting into some subjective terms. In our case, the curiosity wasn’t necessarily based on HFCS vs. sugar, but to see if the people who said that they could tell a difference were deluding themselves. Considering at that time, the Mexican Coke was $2 for a 12oz bottle, I thought it would be interesting to see if it was “worth it” (verdict: it was better tasting sugar water to me, but spending two or three times as much for better sugar water is still pretty stupid).

            But if you want my subjective opinion, the sugar version didn’t taste more or less sweet, but it had less of lingering taste after you swallowed it. “Cleaner” if you will, whereas the regular Coke seemed to leave a little “gumminess” behind. I noticed the same thing with Pepsi Throwback. I didn’t care for the Mt Dew Throwback at all, but I don’t care much for regular Mt Dew (but I do, perversely, like Diet Mt Dew).

  82. Here is an idea for and experiment comparing HFCS, other sugars, and artificial sweeteners that I would love to see, but I can’t figure out how to blind, or double-blind, the tests.

    It’s well known that taste and smell trigger digestive enzyme production, so it would seem reasonable to me that tasting something sweet should prepare the body to produce more insulin and other chemicals to process the sugars that are about to hit the digestive system. In fact, it seems more reasonable that the taste receptors are more important for this because it is the one area of your body where the chemicals aren’t being combined and swamped with acids and digestive products.

    I’ve long suspected that some artificial sweeteners produce low blood sugar “attacks” and there is evidence that drinking diet sodas can cause weight gain, although the mechanism isn’t understood. Anecdotally, drinking some diet sodas can give me weak, hunger attacks when I drink them without food.

    I’ve searched for studies related to this and see a flaw. In order to double-blind the experiment, the sugar or sweetener is place in gelatin capsules so the subject can’t tell the difference between saccharine, aspertame, sugar, HFCS, or some inert filler used as a control. The subjects take the capsules and then blood sugar tests are run over the next few hours. These studies have shown little to no significant difference in blood sugar or insulin levels.

    What I’d like to see, if a proper experiment could be constructed, is whether the same is true when the subjects actually taste the sugars, with the hypothesis that when taste is involved, insulin production and sugar processing in the digestive system is different between sucrose, fructose, HFCS, and/or artificial sweeteners. Unfortunately, most people can easily tell the difference between sugars and artificial sweeteners (and could certainly tell when they’re not getting either) and that might skew the results.

    Michael Pollan asserted that HFCS is to corn what cocaine is to coca leaves. And that “mainlining” sugar in the form of sugary drinks in particular screws up the body’s normal processes for digesting and using sugars. I’m adding to that the idea that artificial sweeteners trigger a similar response, but with no sugars to process, the body is confused and wants calories to replace the ones it thought it should be receiving.

    Has anyone seen a study like this or does anyone have any ideas on how it could be accomplished with proper experimental procedure?

    1. Yes—its been done to some extent using sweetened tea for fructose vs sucrose with a lower increase in insulin for fructose—but I’ve never seen one with the artificial sugars. I will tell you though that the diet “sugars” really upset normal sugar absorption in the gut to the point where you actually absorb more normal sugar faster if you have a diet soda with your sugar or use a 50/50 blend (It increases apical GLUT transporters). Its these types of subtle changes in receptors and signaling that we just haven’t studied enough. So for everyone saying jury’s still out I totally agree.

  83. “I stopped eating HFCS foods and lost 15 pounds!”
    is the same as
    “I cut out a large swath of foods and lost 15 pounds!”

    Being more choosy when it comes to food and trying to avoid a certain ingredient will probably make you lose weight. Especially if said ingredient is as ubiquitous as HFCS. Not to pick on anyone in particular, but try to be a little more objective in your thinking.

    Also, Sucrose is broken down in the stomach, into its components Fructose and Glucose. So by the time it hits your liver/bloodstream/whatever it’s pretty much the same as eating a 50/50 mixture.

    There’s probably nothing I can say to persuade the “OMG Chemicals!” crowd, though.

    1. This is a truly incorrect post — 1) “I stopped eating HFCS foods and lost 15 pounds!” is absolutely not the same thing as “I cut out a large swath of foods and lost 15 pounds!” All HFCS foods (except karo syrup, I suppose) can be made with sugar — if you replace a supermarket pie with a homemade pie made with sugar (or a supermarket pie made with sugar) you have NOT cut out a swath of foods (pies), you have cut out HFCS.

      2) Explain to us the following: How is it that sucrose and HFCS are the same, or substantially the same, if, as you concede, sucrose is broken down in the stomach? Is fructose not broken down in the stomach? So, if sucrose is and fructose isn’t, then you’re on board with the notion that there is a substantial difference between the metabolic process that breaks down the two?

      3) You might not be able to persuade the “OMG Chemicals!” crowd, but by lumping everyone who does not agree with you into that crowd, despite your own logical and scientific misunderstanding, is pretty American of you.

      1. 1)
        a) Reading nutrition labels alone probably means you’re eating healthier, since you’re paying attention to what you’re eating now.
        b) If I walk into the cereal aisle and decide to avoid HFCS, then yes I’ve eliminated a large swath of products. And the remaining ones probably tend to skew towards the healthy side.
        2) Are you saying that breaking down sucrose with stomach acid takes significant energy? I haven’t read that anywhere.
        3) When I referenced the anti-“chemicals” crowd, I was more referring to a distinct subgroup. As opposed to the larger population who simply bought into HFCS fear.

    2. “Sucrose is broken down in the stomach”

      Exactly! and that takes energy (calories for those counting).

      Even if it is fast, and a fairly small amount of energy, this is a big deal as far as your body is concerned.

      You wouldn’t happen to know how many calories it takes to break down 100 calories of sucrose to fructose+glucose?

  84. “Sounds like someone is the pocket of ‘corn sugar.'”

    Or maybe someone just doesn’t take everything Michael Pollan says at face value. I know that is the cool thing to do nowadays.

  85. I just looked through my kitchen and there’s not even one single item containing HFCS or any added sugar of any kind. The closest things that I have to processed foods are olives and live-culture pickles. Maybe y’all should try eating food instead of industrial byproducts for a change.

    1. You should definitely stop eating processed foods altogether. Pasteurization counts as a process, by the way. And don’t get me started on cooking

      /testing my luck by sassing a moderator

    2. Agreed – let the government determine what you eat? Seriously? They’re not your mother…Relying on prepared foods from unknown sources is a recipe for disaster. Why so trusting?

  86. One of the big reasons that HFCS has taken over in food production stems from the original policy of subsidizing cane sugar producers in the US. Due to government price supports and tariffs on imported sugar, cane sugar costs twice as much here as in the rest of the world. This is one of the reasons HFCS rose as an alternative. It’s also a reason why Life-Savers and other hard candy manufacturers have moved their factories to Canada, hard candy relies on cane sugar. One poor agricultural policy to protect a domestic industry has distorted other areas of agriculture, damaged our public health, and even cost domestic jobs.

    Oddly enough, this type of corn syrup got its start in the brewing industry, corn is used as an adjunct in a lot of American beers, and the way you use it in brewing is to convert the starches into sugar. Traditionally, grain starches are converted by malting (natural enzymes in the malt do the conversion), but this process is much more scalable. “Corn Sugar” (dried) is something you can buy for homebrewing, it’s preferable to sucrose because as a monosaccaride, it is more readily fermented by yeast and is more water-soluble. Most homebrewers use it for natural carbonation when they bottle, a small amount of sugar added to the bottled beer allows the yeast to carry on enough fermentation to carbonate the beer. Brewing syrup is probably HFCS-90, which is mixed with regular corn syrup to produce HFCS-55 and HFCS-45 (used in baking). The syrup itself is kind of grey, with the consistancy of mucus.

    The other big factor in the rise of HFCS has to be the ‘cola wars’. Remember when soda was expensive, sold in returnable glass bottles? The shift to larger non-returnable bottles was widely seen as a genius marketing move, as was the shift to self-serve beverage bars in fast food places and larger drinks. Both were made possible by cheaper sweeteners. The large increase in demand for HFCS once it was well-entrenched in the beverage industry no doubt necessitated increased production, and in turn, lower prices. The major food companies seized this as an opportunity to lower their costs as well, though regular corn syrup has been used in food manufacturing for a long time.

  87. I’ve never been _worried_ about the stuff. I just don’t think it tastes as good as cane sugar or beet sugar. And there are some recipes which just don’t work with corn syrup… which is why, every Easter, we had the odd situation of Kraft importing Cadbury creme eggs from the UK, where they were manufactured under license from Kraft (which now owns the Cadbury brand).

    America subsidizes corn, so corn sugar/corn syrup has been cheap domestically (at least until ethanol started competing for that feed stock). Canada doesn’t subsidize corn, so it doesn’t get used except where really appropriate — something that those of us who can taste the difference take advantage of every time we visit.

    1. A lot of confections these days are imported because they require cane sugar for the recipe to work, and the US tariffs and subsidies for cane sugar have made the price twice what it is on the world market.

      So it’s not just that corn syrup is cheap, it’s also that our public policy makes cane sugar more expensive than it is other places.

    1. Anon #173: i have it on good authority that sodium is my deadly enemy…but as soon as salt hits the spit, it dissolves into its elements: and then there are both sodium ions and chlorine ions in your spit.

  88. 1. While there are plenty of sources of fructose and glucose I believe that HFCS is by far the main source of straight fructose and glucose. By straight I mean that’s what is in the food, no conversions necessary.

    2. Sugar is a complex sugar called sucrose. It requires sucrase (note the a), which is a enzyme, to break it down into glucose and fructose.

    3. Yes HFCS is the same as sugar AFTER it has been converted by sucrase.

    4. The body uses the enzyme sucrase to help regulate the amount of simple sugars (yes that would be glucose and fructose).

    5. HFCS is straight glucose and fructose, it’s dumped straight into the bloodstream bypassing the normal mechanisms used to regulate blood sugar.

    I suspect that this causes blood sugar to vary widely. I suspect that this is not the cause but is a large factor in Diabetes.

    I suspect that all the sweeteners we get keep us used to having a lot of sweets which encourages us to overeat, and consume sweetened beverages. Yes we want out sweet “fix” and the food industry is more than happy to “push” this at us.

    HFCS is not equal to sugar any more than gasoline is equal to crude oil. (oversimplified as there’s lots of other things in crude oil but you get the point)

  89. HFCS is a chemical product that seems inexpensive because its subsidized by the various government agencies with some form of budgetary ties to the FDA.

    Its just a food additive that some people have determined is sweet (I think its tastes like overly sweet crap and I buy my soft drinks WITHOUT it.)

    A history of HFCS ( ) reveals that it didn’t take off as the sweetener of preference (by Agribusiness and packaged food manufacturers) in the US until AFTER 1977.

    Before 1977, obesity was a rare condition of people who seriously over ate. It was not prevalent in the common literature and the media.

    In the 1960 and early seventies COSMO magazine was filled with articles about skinny women having fabulous sex. Now, its filled with ads for diet products being sold to women who are trying (and failing) to get some form of control over their expanding bodies.

    The “obesity epidemic” in the US began AFTER 1977.

    Now we have doctors concerned about obesity from childhood on. Obesity is directly and causally linked to diabetes, heart disease and liver problems.

    Coincidence? I think NOT!

    We’ve been sold a bill of goods by agribusiness and the FDA and digging our graves with our teeth.

    The only thing more widespread than HFCS is BPA, which we ALL have in above trace amounts in all of our bodies.

  90. Actually it doesn’t tie in with Cuba and our embargo at all.

    There are plenty of other sources for cane (and cane sugar) than Cuba.

    Why else have we wreaked havok over most of South America defending Dole and Chiquita?

    1. I would have thought that if all limits on trade between the US and Cuba were to be lifted, that the price of that commodity – cane sugar, which Cuba produces in abundance, and very close to the major US markets – would plummet.
      Silly me.

      1. Cuba does not produce cane sugar in abundance, not anymore. Cuba became a net importer of sugar several years ago. The only segment of agriculture Cuba still excels in is tobacco.

        Brazil is by far the largest sugar cane producer, though Mexico and Colombia are also very large producers. The US itself is actually a very large producer of cane sugar, but mainly because subsidies, rather high price floors, and tariffs make the cane sugar industry artificially profitable. Change the agriculture policies, and you’ll put a lot of US producers out of business. As a consequence of that fact, they have a powerful lobbying presence in Washington.

  91. Wow, we had to wait until comment #173 until somebody mentioned the tariffs and quotas limiting the importing of sugar made from cane! In Europe the tariffs work the other way to keep HFCS out. The problems of HFCS may by overstated but I prefer the taste of sucrose. And I also would prefer to support the economies of the small islands in the Caribbean.

  92. I’d be interested in obesity and soda consumption in countries that still use cane sugar to sweeten their soft drinks compared to US statistics.

  93. There seems to be a new “corn syrup isn’t that bad” campaign sprouting up all over the Internet.

    Obviously, no food is evil. The problem is that we put it in everything (ketchup, applesauce, etc) allowing our children to get fatter and sicker, and corporations to get richer. Is that corn syrup’s fault? No. But is t good? Also, no.

    There is plenty of science about how your body processes HFCS + environmental issues of mega farms + socio-economics of creating welfare farms, of course. But I won’t both going into those…

    1. Of course, that “HFCS isn’t bad” campaign may be the active result of the corn grower’s lobby that is plastering the airwaves with ads about how natural HFCS is and that of course it isn’t worse than sugar. I’m really not a conspiracy theorist, but combined with the fact that they sponsored a lot of the experiments that show no metabolic differences makes me suspicious. Even if they aren’t “hiding something” you can tell they’re worried that their government subsidized money train is going to grind to a halt.

  94. @ #29: If it requires an industrial factory to make, don’t eat it.

    Exactly. HFCS may not be evil, but it is a pretty good marker for highly processed food. In turn, this means it may be a useful marker for food designed to make you want to eat more.

    One thing prepared food companies have gotten pretty good at is finding the combination of sugar, fat and salt in various dishes that trigger people’s taste for more, more, more. HFCS is surely a piece of this puzzle.

    As other commenters have said, read any book by Michael Pollan, or, I add, The End of Overeating by David Kessler. Or just learn to cook. Dinners cooked from scratch are pretty easy to make with zero HFCS.

  95. To evaluate HFCS in direct comparison to cane sugar is to overlook a more important issue; namely, the way it’s USED is the problem.

    Unlike any other sweetener, HFCS is used as a PRESERVATIVE. This is a dollar-cheap but calorie-expensive way to increase shelf life, and because of this, it is used much more heavily than any comparable one-trick (aka only good at sweetening) sweetener.

    Tellingly, HFCS’s preservative attributes are cited by the Corn Refiners Association itself as one of its benefits to food producers. More details below:

  96. I avoid HFCS for several reasons.
    1. Taste – Colas made with with HFCS and those made with Cane sugar do taste different. Heinz Ketchup taste better with regular sugar though not as good as the organic ketchup I got before. I don’t use much ketchup so this bottle will last a while.
    2. Cuts my intake of all sugars – I rarely have a soda, 1 every 3 months. I order unsweetened ice tea at restaurants or water. If a server gives me tea with sugar I nearly vomit as it tastes like syrup. At home I sometimes brew a pitcher of ice tea with about a tablespoon of honey in it and that is plenty sweet for me.
    Also I avoid processed foods much more by looking for HFCS and putting things back on the shelf if they have HFCS. My list of ingredients that I reject
    3. It’s processed with mercury. The mercury doesn’t make it into food in significant amounts, I probably get more in one serving of sushi than in all HFCS I use to consume. But it points to the fact that it’s a highly processed food product before it’s even used in other food.

    HFCS is not the same as corn syrup.
    Fruit Juice is bad for you even without the HFCS as it spikes blood sugar and you miss out on the fiber of the fruit. Plus it rarely is the just the juice that it’s flavored to be. 100% pomegranate flavored juice is a lot of apple and pear juice.

  97. There IS a problem with a diet high in fructose as it is one of the most prevalent additives to processed foods. Given the advantages of creating demand for a product that has subsidies coming out of its ears, the HFCS industry is not working in your best interests. The rise in obesity, diabetes, colon rectal cancers, and many more issues can be traced to the introduction and increase of HFCS in a wide variety of foods that previously did not contain it. It is the presence in a wide range of foodstuffs that is the problem as well as the fact that it is ‘hidden’ i.e. you are not pouring in there yourself. Check out the ‘Liquid Candy Calculator’ at and perhaps you will get part of the picture.

    Ask yourself the simple question “How many standard sized cans of soda do I drink in a week?” If it is more than two then that is too much. Why? Your body is not designed to cope with the imbalance you create. Also check out ‘Sugar Stacks’ here Now, eat the same amount of sugar in one go as you would with a can or bottle of soda.

    Then of course you have the artificial sweeteners… aspartame et al. Have you checked out what many of these actually do to you? Have they been cleared by the FDA? Do you REALLY need them in your diet or is the ingredient there for a reason?

    Salt – the recommended daily dose of salt is a maximum of 1,500mg (1.5 grams). The typical American male consumes over TEN grams of salt a day and a typical American female over SEVEN grams.

    Now, check out some crowd photos from the 1970’s and of now. The one thing you will note is the lack of fat people. People worry about lots of things but go into denial when eating, buying new clothes, or looking in the mirror. Genetic my fat rrrrr.

    “I look around me and all I see is fat people” … now which movie did that come from?

  98. HFCS is nothing more, and nothing less, than pre-digested sugar.

    The little bit of energy expended in digesting sucrose makes a difference.

  99. This article ignores the fact that HFCS is made a genetically modified crop- corn- which is farmed in the most destructive ways involving tons of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. As others have pointed out, corn is heavily subsidized by the govt. so we have a situation where junk food is incredibly cheap while healthy organics are not. Damn right HFCS is the devil! It’s astonishing how shallow this article is, something to be expected from the mainstream media, but not here. Next time, try digging a little deeper!

  100. (1) not all calories are created equal
    (2) time factor
    (3) dependencies

    I second – horrible post and good comments.
    Horrible in the sense that it tries to come to some simple conclusion on something as complex as nutritional science.

    3 things that most people neglect when they oversimplify.

    1) not all calories are created equal. Calorie is energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 °C. This is not directly related people, food , or how fat they get. Wood is calorie dense, but eating it won’tget you fat, since you can’t digest it. Saying something has same calorie as another doesn’t mean they’ll have equal impact on getting fat.

    2) time factor : It’s not the amount ; it’s the amount per time that matters. It matters how long something stays in your digestive system and/or blood stream , it matters how fast something is absorbed / broken down / release in the system. So juice is not the same as whole fruit. Sucrose is not the same as glucose and fructose separately.

    3) dependency : someone already mentioned this but a lot of times the ratio of two things are a lot more important than the amount of each thing. some studies show it’s not the amount of salt that’s bad, it’s the ratio of salt to potassium in a diet. ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 . in this case a 50/50 ratio like sucrose may be very different in behavior then say 60/40.

  101. HFCS suffers from two issues.

    It’s in every goddamn thing. American food as a whole tastes sickly sweet because of it and it makes you fat.

    It tastes like ass. It has a horrible after taste and the sweetness it brings has a musty, oily taste to it.

    It’s making you fat and your food taste worse.

  102. If a corporation is telling me chemical “A” is safe and at the same time trying to change the name of chemical “A”, this leads me to believe the corporation is full of chemical “Bull****”

  103. Corn syrup plugs up my nose…

    I just have a soda every once in a while as a treat, not as a staple drink like most folks.

    Soda pop sweetened with cane sugar kicks ass! Much brighter and cleaner taste IMO.

  104. The corn sweetener industry is driving this very same perspective. Comparing the sugar-related effects of cane sugar and corn sweetener is one thing. The rest of the story is found by simply studying the process by which corn sweetener is derived and further the environmental impact of producing this substance from crop to market.
    It may be a bit soon to celebrate your counterintuitive discovery.

  105. Um, there are studies connecting GMO corn to drastically reduced fertility in mice by the 3rd generation, along with reduced litter size, higher infant mortality, and low birth weight.

    And what is HFCS made from? GMO corn.

    I’m not sure HFCS is Satan, but I’m pretty sure GMO corn is. If one is made from the other, then I’m out!

  106. I remember as a kid when they switched over to HFCS instead of sugar and suddenly pop all tasted a bit icky. I could blind taste test the difference between a sugar pop and a HFCS pop, all day long.

    Also, bring back the 16.9oz. glass bottles! fcuk that plastic and aluminum crap.

  107. High fructose corn syrup is not an inherently malignant source of calories because of it’s fructose level. High fructose corn syrup is the bloody devil because of the obscene amount of GMO processing that goes into making the corn that is the source of this sweetner.
    That and HFCS has become the medium through which the government subsidized food industry will make some use of the mountainous excess of useless corn farmers create every year to stay afloat in an ever more consumer-over-producer-market.
    Oh, and Monsanto is the devil.

  108. Don’t forget the higher incidence of allergies due to everything containing corn syrup, dextrose, or MSG (all three generally being corn products). Many people only have a low-level response and never realize they have a problem. Some get it bad (even break out in hives) but still have a terrible time figuring out the cause.

  109. I used to work for a company that manufactured Gas Chromatography equipment. One of the more common uses was to test flavor discrepancies in mass produced products like candy and soft drinks. I seem to recall there being all sorts of fun additional elements in HFCS that were not found in other sugars, but were trace elements in the catalysts used to break the starch and derivative products.

    The process for extracting sugar from corn is more complex than that of beets, cane or potatoes. Those chemical processes are where the problems come into the equation. Done carefully with attention to what is in the catalysts and you don’t have much problem, done cheaply and sloppily and you may get various heavy metals as a trace contaminant.

    There is also molds and fungi that can contaminate a batch which are toxic.

    The FDA doesn’t bother these places much, and so much is produced outside of their purview. HFCS is a gamble I don’t take.

  110. Um, many people are allergic to corn and actively avoid all corn based products. If cheap, gready bastards using high fructose corn syrup start branding the word corn out of the label then they will be causing harm, and in some extreme cases increasing the potential of a fatality. It is evil when you disguise harmful and potentially deadly ingredients.

  111. As far as I know, there is no difference between high fructose corn syrup and sugar. I still try to avoid corn syrup, however, because it tends to be a sign of over-processed foods. I’m not one of those entirely organic guys, but I do prefer food over edible, food-like substances.

  112. “A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.”
    Oh Snap, your article is wrong wrong wrong.

  113. One of the sources cited, Junkfood Science, shows up on the lists warning about front groups, PR spinners, industry-friendly experts, and think tanks trying to influence public opinion on behalf of corporations or government. Sourcewatch notes that Junkfood Science blogger Sandy Szwarc has previously attempted to reassure people that mercury in fish is just fine, phthalates are harmless to infants, and that mad cow disease is no threat to humans.

    Here is the Sourcewatch article on Sandy Szwarc

    It is interesting seeing the food industry resort to similar tactics as the tobacco industry to influence scientific opinion. A great expose on these tactics is David Michael’s book “Doubt is Their Product: How Industry’s Assault on Science Threatens Your Health.”

    1. Someone else up the thread mentioned that study, and I replied with the actual numbers from that study, as follows:

      Summary of experiments, diets and final body weight.
      Experiment Diet End point body
      weight (g)
      Experiment 1
      Males: 8 weeks
      1. 24-h HFCS + ad libitum chow 470 ±7
      2. 12-h HFCS + ad libitum chow 502 ±11?
      3. 12-h sucrose + ad libitum chow 477 ±9
      4. Ad libitum chow 462 ±12

      Experiment 2
      Females: 7 months
      1. 24-h HFCS + ad libitum chow 355 ±12?
      2. 12-h HFCS + 12-h chow 323 ±9
      3. 12-h sucrose + 12-h chow 333 ±10
      4. Ad libitum chow 328 ±10

      Seriously, folks, I know math is hard and all that, but even a cursory glance at these numbers show that HFCS is not the devil of sugars.

      If that’s the best study that the anti-HFCS crowd can come up with, then I see no cause to worry.

      //apologies for repeating myself.

      1. There should be no significant difference if sucrose = HFCS. This experiment is being done in an uncontrolled on the population, but the difference on humans has never been examined in a similarly controlled fashion for more than a couple days. Having done obesity experiments on rats, yeah the numbers worry me.

  114. Just to add a personal story to all this, I had been having stomach problems for a couple years and doctors couldn’t help. Finally I started experimenting with removing different foods from my diet and lo and behold replacing sucrose with fructose (and glucose) worked. Now I feel better than I ever have and I also lost about 20 pounds in the process.

  115. HFCS IS the Devil: I am one of those incredibly lucky corn-allergic people. Whether they change the labeling to “corn sugar” versus HFCS matters not to me, as long as the word CORN remains. And, as an Anon poster pointed out, adding mandatory ingredient labeling to alcoholic beverages would make life WAY easier when trying to order a drink at the bar.

  116. Looking for products without HFCS forces you to read the labels and ask questions about the food you consume, which would tend to make you choose healthier alternatives even if HFCS wasn’t pure addictive evil. Alternatives which are not sweetened with HFCS would tend to have less overall sugar, rather than replacing it more expensive sugars, anywhere that the sugar wasn’t an essential ingredient. And I also find smaller servings of sugar based coke much more satisfying than ludicrously large servings of HFCS based coke, though I find them both sickly sweet after switching to tap water several years ago.

  117. A few points that need clarifying.

    1. GFO corn. It may or may not be better than natural corn but it’s use in HFCS makes no difference. It’s like distilling lake water and distilling river water, you still get plain water.

    2. GFO in general. Through thousands of years we have genetically modified plants to fit our needs. And that includes genes from other species being added as part of natural processes. A very slow process until recently.

    Now we can snip and cut to add and remove traits we have identified. Can that result in failures, yes. Can it result in poisonous results, yes. However consider if a GFO crop caused hundreds of thousands of people to get sick and hudreds to die every year. It would have to be banned from schools because it might accidentally hurt or kill a student.

    No company is going to let something like that out the door. But we have it just the same. The peanut.

    3. HFCS may or may not cause more weight gain. Probably not under the conditions of the study that has been quoted here.

    HOWEVER a study done in the same fashion would report that low doses of cocaine wasn’t dangerous either. However if you let a mouse have unlimited access to regular food, and another to regular food and an unlimited amount of cocaine the mouse will consume the cocaine until it dies from it or starvation.

    HFCS may work in a similar way. It does not trigger “I’m Full, or Not Hungry anymore” which encourages us to eat more.

    A rigorous study should be done on calories consumed when a diet contains little or no HFCS as opposed to a diet high in them.

    / mmmmmm soapbox
    // ok I’ll get off it.
    /// slashies, gotta love em.

    1. You seem to be aware of the enzymatic regulation of bio-processes, and more specifically, the role of such processes in the regulation of the ‘fat-or-full feeling’, or signal; and you seem to think that a suppression or elimination of this enzymatic process by HFCS may constitute the manner of its action.

      Check this out, about enzymatic action and its role in neuronal destruction in stroke:

      …although in the case of stroke treatment, the suppression or elimination of a natural enzymatic action would be the desired result, and not an unintended or unforeseen consequence, as with (possibly) HFCS.

  118. HFCS is not the devil, but when it is used it’s a major indication that ALL of the ingredients are cheap and fillers are used. Fillers is a loose word, but take the example of bread. Buy any bread – even ‘whole grain’ bread with HFCS and something similar without – the one without is 99% certain to be superior in taste and nutrition. It isn’t because of HFCS exactly, it’s because it’s a cheap mass processed loaf of bread.

    Also, I’m still amazed by the confusion people have with ‘corn syrup’ and ‘high fructose corn syrup’ – they are dramatically different. You cannot buy HFCS in the store… it isn’t what you put in homemade products. Seems the naming issue has done wonders to mask the issues around HFCS..

  119. >HFCS may work in a similar way. It does not trigger “I’m Full, or Not Hungry anymore” which encourages us to eat more.

    This! It’s not the HFCS it’self that is ‘evil’ but it’s the side effect of not getting the ‘I’m done eating’ signal, which will cause you to over eat. And since it’s in everything almost, that is why we’ve become an obese nation.

  120. the problem is that people who are opposed to corn syrup don’t oppose it because it’s somehow bad for you. no, the people who really oppose corn syrup oppose it because of our country’s super dependence on corn. there’s corn in everything! even things that corn shouldn’t be in. government subsidies for corn means that farmers can have throwaway farms that are nothing but corn, and they don’t even have to sell a single ear and it’ll still turn a profit because the government buys all the corn up. and then we have so much corn! what the fuck do we do with it? let’s feed it to cows (whose stomachs are incapable of digesting corn) and chickens and pigs and we’ll make sugar and syrup out of it, and flour and snack cakes (corn in cakes? really folks?), and regular bread, and even plastic and fuel. in fact, the fact that we can make plastic and fuel doesn’t make us stop feeding it to cows (remember, not good for them!) and chickens and pigs and making non-corn related food out of it, no! we just figure why not grow even more corn? and corn takes a lot out of the land. and it’s in our meet too. so much of what we consume is corn, and that’s why people who really oppose fructose syrup oppose it. but what instead happens is that it gets twisted into an issue that it’s not: health. i’ve never read someone who’s opposed to corn who opposes it BECAUSE it’s a health issue. it’s a corollary issue (eating all this corn isn’t good for you), but it’s not THE issue.

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