HFCS (NOT!) Fun

You’d think I’d have learned by now, especially after that Agave Controversy post, not to post about Science stuff.

A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain

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.

Working at a University, I’ve met a lot of scientists who say things like, “Calories are Calories, if you’re fat, you’re just eating too many calories and not getting enough exercise.”

Personally, I’ve always thought that a pretty simplistic way of looking at things as complicated as diet, culture, and metabolism.

Interestingly, it appears that some Scientists are seeing further evidence from animal based experiments that High Fructose Corn Syrup, even in water solutions with similar calorie contents to those with sucrose sugar solution, may be far more likely to cause obesity and other fat related illnesses.

And again, I’ll point out that while Agave Nectar is nowhere near as ubiquitous as HFCS in the American diet, it shares many chemical characteristics with that substance.  Some brands of Agave Nectar may actually contain more fructose than High Fructose Corn Syrup.

4 thoughts on “HFCS (NOT!) Fun

  1. Remember, this study was done on RATS, not humans. There are significant differences between the two, especially in what we eat and how it is metabolized.

    For example, humans use Tylenol all the time for what ails us and it is quiet effective and safe. Give a cat Tylenol and you’ll most likely have a dead cat. Cat’s lack the necessary enzymes to metabolize it.

    The vast majority of human studies still show that HFCS is still equal to sucrose in the way we metabolize sugar. That said, scientists will hopefully come up with a conclusion soon.

  2. The beautiful thing about Science is that nothing is ever really a conclusion. Any “conclusion”, at best, is a “generally agreed upon hypothesis”.

    I did say, “may be far more likely,” but I’ll try to clarify a bit that the study was based on Animal experiments.

  3. I won’t weigh in directly on the HFCS debate itself, but from what I’ve gathered amongst the metabolism community here is that the perceived lack of exercise has very little to do with the obesity problem the country faces. On average, Americans exercise more today than they did 30-40 years ago (right before when obesity levels began to rise), but the average American diet contains 500 more calories per person per day. Moreover, its thought that some 80% of obesity has its origins in genetics. That is to say, 80% of the population has the genetic propensity to become obese, but it is how we eat that can keep that genetic component under control. I think the general perception among metabolism researchers is that there is something in the current American milieu that is highly obesogenic, whether HFCS or otherwise.

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