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Corn sugar new name proposed for high fructose corn syrup

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Editor's note: The industry has seen the sales of high fructose corn syrup on the decline. Could a new name help the sweetener that has been linked to increased risk of health conditions like obesity and diabetes?

On September 14, the Corn Refiner’s Association said in a press release posted on its website that it has asked the Food and Drug Administration to allow manufacturers of high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, to use the name "corn sugar" instead of high fructose corn syrup.

The FDA considers HFCS as natural, even though critics point out that this sweetener consisting of both glucose and fructose is in reality, not found in corn.  This product is made by enzymatically converting some portion of glucose, which is derived from corn starch, into fructose.

The resulting high fructose corn syrup, which is commonly used in a variety of processed foods and beverages, consists of 55 percent fructose and 42 percent glucose, or 42 percent fructose and 53 percent glucose.

Use of high fructose corn syrup has been linked to an increased risk of overweight and obesity, among other things.  

Princeton University researchers reported on March 18, 2010 in the online version of the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior that consumption of high fructose corn syrup caused more weight gain in lab animals than table sugar when both sweeteners were consumed in equal quantity.

Bart Hoebel and colleagues also reported that long term use of high fructose corn syrup caused abnormal increases in body fat, particularly in the abdomen and an increase in circulating blood fats called triglycerides, both of which are signs of metabolic syndrome.

There is a growing body of evidence that fructose, which can also be found in table sugar or sucrose, honey and other foods, can be harmful when consumed in large quantities, over a lengthy duration. Stephan B.C. and colleagues at the University of Cambridge reported  in the August 2010 issue of The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences that increased fructose intake may boost risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia.

Gaby AR, whose affiliation is not clear, wrote in the Dec 2005 issue of Alternative Medicine Review : a journal of Clinical Therapeutic:

In particular, fructose is a potent reducing sugar that promotes the formation of toxic advanced glycation end-products, which appear to play a role in the aging process; in the pathogenesis of the vascular, renal, and ocular complications of diabetes; and in the development of atherosclerosis. Fructose has also been implicated as the main cause of symptoms in some patients with chronic diarrhea or other functional bowel disturbances. In addition, excessive fructose consumption may be responsible in part for the increasing prevalence of obesity, diabetes mellitus, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Although the long-term effects of fructose consumption have not been adequately studied in humans, the available evidence suggests it may be more harmful than is generally recognized.

Fructose in high fructose corn syrup may not be the only issue surrounding the sweetener that concerns some consumers.

Researchers at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey reported that reactive carbonyls, which are found high in the blood of diabetes patients, are also found in soft drinks sweetened with HFCS.

Dr. Chi-Tang Ho and colleagues found one single can of a HFCS sweetened soft drink contained a five times higher concentration of reactive carbonyls than the concentration found in the blood of an adult with diabetes.

Reactive carbonyls have been found by other scientists to have the potential to trigger cell and tissue damage that could lead to diabetes, according to a news release by the American Chemical Society, which was reporting Dr. Ho's finding.

Editing by Rachel Stockton

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Subscribe to comments feed Comments (10 posted):

AJ on 09/15/2010 11:52:47
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You have an error in the first ratio given for HFCS. 66 should be 55% as in HFCS55. 66 and 42 make 110%.
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Nick Ware on 09/15/2010 12:03:36
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There is a legitimate question in my mind as to whether or not the corn industry should be allowed to change the name. Here’s why, for another perspective and more on how high-fructose corn syrup damages the body, check out: http://www.nickwarehealth.com/2010/09/14/corn-sugar/
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Barry Combess on 09/15/2010 12:07:39
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Thank you Dr. Ho!! Every study that has ever been done on corn syrup has found that the liver is not reacting to the glucose level that it is receiving from the syrup, the connection to diabetes type 2 would seem to me to be a no-brainer.
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Tom Bechtel on 09/15/2010 14:04:13
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Its a travesty that the FDA lists this product as natural. Our government is broken and is not looking out for the best interests of its people!
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kate on 09/15/2010 15:25:20
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People need to stop freaking out over HFCS, it's all about moderation. Whether you're consuming sucrose or HFCS, you cannot sit back and drink soda all day and eat cookies them blame HFCS. Get real, check out http://diet-myths.com/?p=290
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annoyed on 09/15/2010 15:40:45
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So, let me get this straight: the market says "We don't want HFCS" and, instead of a response to the market that includes more HFCS-free options, we get "let's rename our product so that consumers can't tell what they're buying"?

The free market system sucks. Looks like it's time to ask for regulation.
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JSC22 on 09/15/2010 16:09:52
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A rose by any other name would still smell sweet. That can be applied to this case too. Call it High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn sugar, unicorn sugar - no matter it is still unhealthy. Just another reason to be an educated consumer, that way you are not at the mercy of their marketing companies. The food industry is like any other industry, driven by money, Not good or bad, you just had to make choices for yourself rather than relying on others to. http://blog.mydiscoverhealth.com/
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Dawn on 09/15/2010 16:33:18
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HFCS and corn syrup are NEVER healthy to consume, even "in moderation". Sugar in general is not good for us but natural sugars are not nearly so detrimental in moderate amounts.

This is just like the MSG issue. People know it's bad, it's an excitotoxin (read Dr. Blaylock's work) and so to hide it from us they can use any of a number of names for it so we don't recognize it on the label.

Free markets are the only hope to prevent this type of travesty, obviously government regulation is how we get into this mess as the FDA sanctions the name changes and toxic products being put on the market with a government seal of approval. If it was a true free market then we'd be able to influence it by our own choices and not by what the government mandates.

Truth in Labeling is something we as consumers should demand with an independent watchdog group that is not government run but instead cares about it's reputation for honesty and integrity.
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janice on 09/15/2010 17:43:52
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The corn syrup industry has been practicing deception and misdirection for a while. They operate under the guise of a group called 'the Center for Consumer Freedom,' providing propaganda that poses as education.
Read Making Sense of the Sugar Wars
http://gigabiting.com/?p=640/
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Lindsey on 10/05/2010 05:19:29
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I try to avoid high fructose corn syrup as much as I can. It is not easy though... hfcs is in EVERYTHING! It drove me to create a community site with some friends to list products without hfcs. Check it out if you are interested.

The Sugar Diet. http://thesugardiet.com
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