The high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) industry is fighting back.
Suffering from years of a tainted image that links the sugar to the obesity epidemic in the U.S., a Washington D.C. trade group is coming to the rescue.
The Corn Refiners Association is in the middle of an 18-month $30 million public relations advertising campaign to convince the big and bigger that the addition of high-fructose corn syrup isn't leading to obesity in this country.
A Web site and ads in major newspapers, "Time for a little food for thought" that compare corn syrup to the "same natural sweeteners as table sugar and honey." TV ads and online banners will follow. The aggressive campaign by the Omnicom Group replaces simple nutrition messages in talks with nutritionists.
Major food and beverage producers, such as Kraft, are now promoting products as HFCS-free.
The American Medical Association recently concluded that HFCS "doesn't appear to contribute more to obesity than other caloric sweeteners," but called for "further independent research."
The rise of HFCS happens to coincide with the rise of obesity in Americans.
Until the 1970s, most sugar came from sugar beets or sugar cane. Then corn syrup began to gain popularity.
Cornstarch is treated with enzymes forming fructose and glucose. Producing HFCS is a less expensive alternative to sugar cane and it mixed well with foods and sodas. HFCS is in everything from pasta sauces to bread, even bacon. Find it in energy bars, “natural” sodas and ketchup. Look for it on the label of almost any processed food, and you’ll find HFCS.
The Wall Street Journal's Michael Waldholz reports on the “Sweetening of America,” that sugar consumed in high quantities over time serves as “liquid candy” and is stored as fat cells. Fructose increases hunger and makes you eat more, says the research.
Furthermore, fructose is converted to triglyceride which raises blood levels of the bad LDL cholesterol and lowers good HDL cholesterol.
The Weston A. Price Foundation, a non-profit group that encourages a return to nutrient dense foods, discourages the use of HDCS.
Rats fed high fructose corn syrup died after five weeks, explains Meira Fields, a research chemist at the USDA in Beltsville, Maryland. They also developed heart-related abnormalities.
High fructose has been implicated in the adult-onset diabetes. Richard Anderson, Ph.d and lead researcher at the Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland. He reports that HFCS reduced our stores of chromium, which is a mineral essential in maintaining a balance of insulin levels, which keep blood sugars in check.
The Corn Refiners Association refutes any links to obesity.
What's not refuted is that there is big business in corn syrup.
Recently agribusiness giant Bunge bought Corn Products International for $4.4 billion in stock. CPI produces corn syrup which is sold to Kellogg, Unilever, Coca-Cola and Pepsi. #