There’s a theory; the only reason Coca-Cola committed to the certain failure of New Coke in the 1980s was to chicane consumers to the introduction of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as a sweetener. It goes like this: Introduce new formula, (New Coke); consumer massively dislikes new formula; bring back old formula, but switch the sweetener from sucrose to HFCS; consumer is happy with return of the classic product, but none the wiser to the cheaper, sweeter replacement. Or so it goes.
Regardless of conspiracy proponents’ rumblings, the unprecedented mass introduction of the corn byproduct changed the American diet exponentially—and correlatively. In 1980, 15 percent of the population was obese, and the average American consumed less than 20 pounds of HFCS a year. By 2000, obesity in America more than doubled, and the HFCS intake rose to 60 pounds. Today, HFCS is the added caloric sweetener in over 40 percent of consumer products, and is found in anything from bread to canned vegetables.
In late 2010, the Food and Drug Administration refused a motion by the Corn Refiners Association to change the label of “corn syrup” to “corn sugar.” The FDA’s reasoning: sugar is defined as a solid, dried, and crystallized food—not a syrup. This is more than a failed attempt at misdirection. The recent marketing campaign by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), the lobbying group that represents high-fructose corn syrup, posits that their liquid sweetener and sugar have the same biochemistry, or a value similar enough to be indistinct. Sucrose, plain table sugar, is equal parts glucose, equal parts fructose, whereas HFCS has approximately 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. Approximately.
A recent study published in Obesity is consistent with the CRA’s campaign of mislabeling. Of twenty-three sweetened beverages tested, there is a mis-purported amount of fructose in corn syrup—18 percent more, wherein the world’s two largest soft drink manufactures may contain up to 65 percent fructose in their products. (Federal law specifically defines HFCS “as mixture containing either approximately 42 or 55 percent fructose.”) Furthermore, the amount of sugar varies up to 30 percent more than what is listed on the label, a significant disparity considering, on average, each Americans drinks 50 gallons of soda a year.
To be sure, a moderate consumption of sugar, any kind of sugar, is an appropriate approach to take. But what if moderation is a vacant quality? Too much fructose arrests the body’s production of leptin, the hormone that tells the body it’s full and to stop eating. This of course triggers a cycle of disability: not knowing when to stop consuming HFCS products, the body consumes more HFCS products.
Opponents of HFCS have discovered serious health risks since its mass introduction in the early 1980s. These include a resistance to insulin, which leads to an increased risk of diabetes; an increase in high blood pressure; a rise in triglyceride levels, which may lead to stroke or heart disease. Also, liver disease, metabolic syndrome, kidney stones, gain in visceral fat, gout, and a “new condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease” that now affects up to one-third of Americans. And the studies keep blooming.
Earlier this year the UCLA School of Medicine found that a high-fructose diet can decrease brain processes such as learning and memory. It may also be linked to the rise in autism in America. This study found that HFCS consumption may “modulate PON1 gene expression… affecting both neurodevelopment and autism prevalence.” Of course, you can find the CRA’s rebuttal to every recent damaging HFCS study here—all 18 of them.
The CRA’s position still holds firm. HFCS, “like sugar and honey, are natural and meet the Food and Drug Administration’s policy for use of the term ‘natural.’” After all, corn is natural, as well as the three enzymes added to it: alpha-amylase, glucoamylase, and xylose isomerase. It is the final result that is deviant. Correct? This argument follows as well as Tobacco lobbyists purporting tobacco is natural. But misdirection is nothing new; in 1969, American Tobacco and RJ Reynolds dropped the word ‘tobacco’ from their corporate names “because it was an emotional term.”
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Wednesday, 31 October 2012