Don’t Blame HFCS for Obesity Crisis, Say Scientists

On the heels of New York City’s landmark beverage ban, one intended to curb rising rates of obesity in the city, a new article published in the International Journal of Obesity indicates that beverages produced with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) should not be singled out as less healthy than their sugar-sweetened counterparts. The article concluded that because HFSC is nutritionally equivalently to sugar and that both sweeteners are “absorbed identically in the human GI tract,” HFCS cannot be specifically linked as the cause of the obesity epidemic in the U.S.

“The public discussion about HFCS will likely continue to rage on and more studies will be conducted,” said James M. Rippe, M.D., a Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida, and a co-author of the article. “However, at this point there is simply no evidence to suggest that the use of HFCS alone is directly responsible for increased obesity rates or other health concerns.”

The article cites an “extensive review of all available HFCS research” and determined that there is no evidence of short-term health differences between individuals who consume HFCS versus sugar. Specifically, weight gain, glucose levels, insulin and appetite in humans “were not adversely affected by the use of HFCS over sugar,” according to the article.

In a footnote titled “Conflict of Interest,” the article noted the Dr. Rippe has received research grants from some companies represented by the Corn Refiners Association (CFA), a trade group representing the U.S. corn refining industry. The CFA has for years funded studies and a public relations campaign to counter negative media reports about HFCS.