Does high-fructose corn syrup, a common ingredient in soft drinks and snacks and too many products to count, make you fatter than sugar?   The Sugar Association, Inc., which represents sugar growers, certainly wants you to think so.

But, like cultural pundits who insist Ronald McDonald makes kids fat, there needs to be more than one study funded by an interested party to make the case.    A review of studies analyzing research on High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and other sweeteners found there is no evidence of any significant variation in the way the human body metabolizes HFCS as opposed to standard table sugar, or any difference in impact on risk factors for chronic disease.

It found no evidence of adverse impacts from consumption of normal levels of either sucrose or HFCS on weight, ability to lose weight, or increased risk factors for chronic disease, nor were other differences found between the two sugars.  An individual is no more likely to experience obesity or chronic diseases by consuming HFCS as opposed to other sweeteners such as table sugar.

Obviously too much of either makes you fat, of course.   And various groups with an agenda (either against science or against business) will note that James M. Rippe, MD, founder and director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute and professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Central Florida and reviewer of the literature, has received funding from groups like PepsiCo, which uses a great deal of high fructose corn syrup, but we are forced to note that engaging in such selective ethical waypoints means no research funding during a Democrat presidency need be accepted by Republicans - various others analogies are equally accurate.

However, high fructose can't seem to be the cause even from a common sense viewpoint because while obesity has risen due to more calories - in the mid-1970s the average American diet contained less than 2,200 calories per day but by 2008, that average increased to nearly 2,700 calories per day, a 22 percent jump - sugar-added (sucrose or HFCS) calories have dropped 10 percent since 1999.

The spike in caloric intake is from added fats and a consistently high calorie intake from flour and cereal products, not sugars of either the sucrose or HFCS kind.

"While there has been a lot of media attention lately focused on the claims that HFCS is somehow more likely to cause obesity and chronic disease than other sweeteners, "the evidence simply does not support those claims," said Rippe. "Recent research shows that individuals who consumed normal levels fructose have seen no adverse effects on their weight or triglycerides.

"In the case of HFCS, while consumption increased steadily over two decades in the United States beginning in the 1970s, it peaked around 1999 and has been declining ever since. Yet, we see the incidence of obesity and diabetes in the U.S. continues to rise or remain steady during that time.   Meanwhile, we have seen obesity and diabetes epidemics in regions of the world where little or no HFCS is available."

The corn sugar industry has been on the defensive in a marketing campaign against them by the sugar industry and attempts to rebrand themselves as 'corn sugar' are being met with lawsuits from the sugar farming industry because they note that HFCS is made from corn starch, though it contains roughly equivalent amounts of glucose  and fructose, just like sucrose does.

Plus, as noted in The Atlantic, the FDA already has a regulation for corn sugar, which may make them move onto a new campaign to fight back against the culture war unleashed by sucrose manufacturers.   

(a) corn sugar (C6H12O6, CAS Reg. No. 50—99—7), commonly called D—glucose or dextrose, is the chemical [alpha]—D—glucopyranose. It occurs as the anhydrous or the monohydrate form and is produced by the complete hydrolysis of corn starch with safe and suitable acids or enzymes, followed by refinement and crystallization from the resulting hydrolysate.

(b) The ingredient meets the specifications of the Food Chemicals Codex, 3d Ed. (1981), pp. 97—98 under the heading "Dextrose..."

(c) In accordance with 184.1(b)(1), the ingredient is used in food with no limitation other than current good manufacturing practice.

"Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS).  Code of Federal Regulations Section 184.1857 

Source: "High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sucrose and Fructose: What Do We Really Know?" at the American Society of Hypertension (ASH) Annual Meeting 

See also:

Dispelled - High Fructose Corn Syrup Causal Link To Obesity

Appetite: Sugar No Better For You Than Corn Syrup, Says Study

Confused About Sugar And Calories? You're Not Alone

High Fructose Corn Syrup Causes Obesity? Not So Fast