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Corn Syrup May Help Promote Obesity

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The average US adult eats about 700 calories a day of refined sugars, of which about 300 calories consist of high fructose corn syrup. From 1970 to 2000, US per person consumption of corn syrup increased more than 10 fold. Corn syrup is an inexpensive, US grown sweetener, which is used in many items such as colas and soft drinks, fruit juice drinks, baked goods, energy bars, cereals, jellies, jam, and desserts.

Most high fructose corn syrup consists of about 55% of the sugar fructose and about 45% of the sugar glucose, with most of these sugars in a free form. Table sugar prepared from sugarcane or beets consists of about 50% fructose and 50% glucose, with most of this sugar being in bound form in a sugar called sucrose. Some researchers believe that high consumption of corn syrup is responsible for the recent increase in obesity rates in the US. Some animal studies have also reported that consumption of corn syrup tends to produce more fat than consuming similar amounts of cane or beet sugar. A study in Princeton, New Jersey reported that rats on a standard rodent diet gained significantly more weight and gained significantly more fat when given a water solution containing 8% high fructose corn syrup, as compared to rats given a 10% solution of cane sugar or a simple water solution. It should be noted that most soft drinks contain about 8 to 10% of either corn syrup or cane sugar. This research by Bocarsly et al. is now in press in Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior.

Some researchers believe that corn syrup may be more fattening than cane or beet sugar since most of the corn syrup sugars are in free form. Other research has indicated that corn syrup is no more fattening than sugar from sugarcane or beets.

Most nutritional authorities recommend severely limiting intake of refined sugars like corn syrup, cane or beet sugar, maple syrup and honey. For sweets, people should enjoy eating fresh fruit (not moldy), plain yogurt or ice cream and other deserts prepared with low calorie sweeteners like Stevia. Many overweight people have lost weight merely by reducing their intake of corn syrup, sugar and honey. Doug Kaufmann’s phase diets are very low in refined sugars and have helped many overweight people lose some weight.

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