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Monday, September 27, 2010

The High-Fructose Corn Syrup Debate

I'll probably get more hate mail for this than the Middle East posts. :)

I hope I don't get sued by the corn industry. I could be perceived to be quite anti-corn. Remember Oprah with the beef disparagement?

Having taken a nutrition class and more than a few science classes, I have a huge problem with myths surrounding food and weight loss.

The pet peeve:

People incessantly trying to make the point that HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) is no worse than sugar; they’re chemically practically the same!

Yahoo’s on HFCS’s side. The link that started this post:

While this is technically true, there are so many reasons that HFCS deserves to be demonized. This myth is definitely one best left alone- at least until we can talk about all of the facts and not just stop at – HFCS is exactly like sugar. I'm totally fine with people thinking it's the devil. Though, not technically correct, it's infinitely less annoying than people who are virtually fans of the stuff.

To be fair, though, some of the anti-HFCS articles and blogs go a bit far and pin all our problems on this one substance. I’m not going along with all of that, but to say that it’s the same as sugar makes me snicker and want to say something sarcastic.

Along with the campaign to defend HFCS, there is a name change campaign. It won’t sound nearly as processed. And it will now have “sugar” in the name. The article mentions it will join the ranks of Phillip Morris/Altria and Blackwater/Xe and that is such a great analogy, really. They’re all trying to sell the same old poison by just changing the name. It will probably work. We love being lied to.

Speaking of snickering...The corn industry’s ad campaign:

What can you say? Sugar-coating the truth. Sickeningly sweet.

Both sides do have some valid points, but I’m definitely for kicking the HFCS habit.

It is said to be sweeter than sugar. If this is true, then it would make it worse since we definitely don’t eat less of it, we actually eat and drink more of it according to statistics.

You might call me a liar, but I can attest to the different taste. Mexican Coke rocks.

Of course HFCS isn't the only thing that is driving the obesity numbers up, but I'd have to say it's a big factor. It makes convenience food more convenient and cheaper.

Maybe part of what bothers me is that the government is part the problem. You'd think they'd want to promote healthy eating for their constituents well being and for lower heath care costs, etc, but they're more concerned with economics.

I realize that it is our choice to eat junk or not, but I don’t think it’s fair to let the corn industry get away with marketing this as just as good as sugar. Just like Vitamin Water and various unnecessary supplements sold at sports nutrition stores shouldn't be allowed to claim health benefits (if you're not regulated by the FDA, like most of thse supplements, you can say basically whatever you want on those packages). Britain has better rules for this and has, I think, succeeded somewhat with Vitamin Water at least in banning some misleading ads.

And then there’s the political aspect. Sugar vs corn industry. US vs the world- in this case- Central America. I write a lot about the actions of the US in the Middle East. In comparison to the Israel-Palestine issue, what we have done in (mostly to) Central America will make you physically ill. Think School of the Americas where we helped out the death squads. Think banana plantations. Gringo. Literally- “green go”. Americans go home. That’s where the not-so-endearing term for us Yankees came from. I don’t think it is unfair of them to think ill of us. We very much deserve it.

A few sites/blogs that explain the political aspect a little:

A few more links:

Common sense advice from the Mayo Clinic. They admit the conflicting data sets on how unhealthy it is. One interesting note was that some studies that “prove” it isn’t less healthy than sugar or a cause of obesity are sponsored by the beverage industry. You always have to look at the funding for this-- and drug studies.

Corn subsidies make unhealthy food choices the rational ones

Halfway down, Goodman asks him why he’s ‘going after HFCS’ :

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