High Fructose Corn Syrup and Obesity

Approximately 50 years ago, food scientists introduced a sweetener into the food industry called high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS. Since then, this particular sweetener has been a very popular ingredient in high-calorie processed foods and sugary beverages. Food manufacturers turn to using HFCS in their products because it is cheaper and sweeter than regular table sugar, therefore it is more cost-effective to use. Though they may taste similar, HFCS and sugar molecules are not metabolized in the same way by the body because they have very different chemical properties. For example, the chemical structure of HFCS molecules allows for faster absorption of simple sugars into the bloodstream whereas regular sugar requires an additional biochemical reaction to break down into simple sugars. This rapid absorption of sugar molecules from HFCS causes a spike in blood sugar to occur and repeated exposure to HFCS over time can wipe out the body’s ability to produce insulin.

Scientists at Princeton University recently found a link between HFCS and obesity. This study showed that HFCS contributed to increased abdominal fat and higher level of triglycerides (fat compounds) circulating in the blood. This research coincides with the fact that since the introduction of HFCS into the food supply, obesity rates have skyrocketed. In addition to obesity, scientists have also found a link between HFCS consumption and diabetes, heart disease, allergies, headaches, behavioral disorders and food addiction.

Avoiding processed foods and sugary drinks altogether is the best way to avoid consuming this toxic ingredient. Buying unprocessed, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains not only reduces your risk of food-related diseases, but also results in a smaller waistline.