I was really amazed (and proud!) to see my local news channel call out possible health issues last month with high fructose corn syrup, a highly processed sweetener perhaps contributing to numerous health problems. The article and video noted the enormous increase in usage of HFCS (4000% percent in the last 40 years) as well as the corresponding increase in obesity, even in children.
The article specifically cites a study done by Princeton University showing that high fructose corn syrup causes more weight gain than sugar. Even if consuming the same amount of calories, the rats with access to HFCS gained more weight than rats with access to sugar. Furthermore, the rats with access to HFCS were actually becoming obese.
In fact, in one of the experiments rats eating a diet loaded with HFCS showed warning signs of the dangerous metabolic syndrome in humans which can increase risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. The signs were said to include “abnormal weight gain, significant increases in circulating triglycerides and augmented fat deposition, especially visceral fat around the belly”. The conclusion was that the rats on the HFCS diet (instead of regular chow) exhibited 48% more weight gain.
What I thought was especially neat about the news report was that the crew made a point of actually visiting a local grocery store and searching out random items containing HFCS. As most of you might guess, finding a number of these products was not hard to do. Many processed foods including salad dressings, sauces, canned goods, and snack foods contain some level of HFCS. Even so-called health products such as yogurt and soup often have it near the top of the ingredients list.
Also, the fact that kids were mentioned to possibly be greatly affected by the excessive consumption of HFCS sadly does not surprise me at all. Think of the number of candies, juices (fresh and frozen), crackers, and even breads that are loaded with this sneaky ingredient. Many of these are foods that kids eat daily!
My hope is that this news report served as a great eye opener to people that don’t normally read labels so that they can be aware of this lurking and potentially dangerous ingredient. The reporters were straight forward in stating that avoiding HFCS would take commitment and not be easy to avoid, but in my opinion it may be very worthwhile.