In a new study published by a Princeton research team, researchers conclude that high-fructose corn syrup causes more significant weight gain than similar amounts of table sugar (Interview here, more commentary here). Indeed
A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.
In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.
“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, at least under the conditions of our tests,” said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.” [Emphasis added.]
Americans have been subjected to a bombardment of corn-syrup laden products for nearly 30 years. None of this is exactly news – go pick up copies of anything written by Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Alice Waters, or Eric Schlosser and HFCS along with corn subsidies are public-enemy number one.
What’s important here is that we’re starting to see scientific tests prove what many of us had only suspected for awhile now: the fructose in HFCS affects bodies differently than does the sucrose and fructose in table sugar. We should, of course, be eating less sugar on the whole, but if you’re going to intake a type of sweetener, it shouldn’t be HFCS.
The larger question is whether this will matter much to American corn subsidies and the next round of the Farm Bill? If American citizens begin to reject the ubiquity of corn in all of our foods, might there be a political sea-change on the horizon for American farmers?