High Fructose Corn Syrup

High-fructose corn syrup is an artificial sweetener generally used in the United States. It is so broadly used because it is both cost-effectively favorable and it helps to preserve food for extended periods of time. Some say that though it is favorable, it has ill effects. High Fructose Corn Syrup According to a 2008 USA Today Article, “high-fructose corn syrup makes up about 50% of the sweeteners used in the USA but worldwide it’s only about 10%”. Every day we eat.

We eat our home cooked meals or our fast food rarely thinking about what’s going into our bodies.Often times one of the first ingredients listed on a can of soda or canned fruit is some form of HFCS or high fructose corn syrup. This ingredient, while widely known, is a secret additive to many products in our grocery stores. High Fructose Corn Syrup is one of the cheapest to make but yet it is the hardest for the body to rid of. Since its introduction to food products nearly forty years ago, it has slowly been added to most foods you feel your family. We as consumers may not pay attention to what goes into our bodies but more and more scientists are.

The studies they are conducting mainly consist of trying to find links between HFCS and several major health problems; such as diabetes and obesity. Although key links have not been defined, they have managed to prove what amounts that can be consumed before harm can be determined. Even though these findings have been confirmed and made public, the FDA still considers HFCS to be safe for consumption. The FDA rule says that as long as a product has no chemicals added it cannot be labeled an “artificial ingredient”. The reason behind this is because HFCS are made from corn, it is not considered an artificial ingredient.The origin of High Fructose Corn Syrup takes its root in the mid 1970’s.

A series of sugar tariffs and quotas were imposed in the United States. These restrictions had significantly increased the cost of imported sugar causing domestic producers to seek cheaper avenues. High-fructose corn syrup became a more economical substitue because the price of corn is kept low through government subsidies paid to its growers. As the United States use of high fructose corn syrup increased, sugar was replaced in most foods and beverages.

There is USDA data from 2009 that shows the per capita use of high fructose corn syrup in the U.S. “was matched with an almost equal decline, on a one-to-one basis, in the per capita use of sugar. ” (Sweet Surprize) So why is there mass campaign to revert back to sugar cane or beet sugar based sweetners? Americans have become more health conscious in the last forty years. Our fear of high-fructose corn syrup seems to have been derived from some very real concerns over the effects of its principal component, fructose.

The coinsidence between the introduction of HFCS and the rise of obesity related diseases can no longer be ignored.Diabetes is a disease with no cure that is running rampet through the country and heart failure remains a syndrome on high. Fructose, like glucose are basic sugars. Though your body processes basic sugars the same way, the results seem to be different. (Engber, 09) When ingesting glucose, the body is known to stimulate the release of body chemicals that regulate your food consumption. Fructose, on the other hand, does very little to suppress your appetite, and it seems to form new fat cells while maintaining the old.

According to a recent research project conducted at Princeton University high-fructose corn syrup does indeed prompt a human to considerably gain weight. “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. ” (Parker, 10)  In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup was also evaluated. The same research team found that HFCS led to abnormal increases in body fat. These increases seemed to be found in the abdomen area.

Body fat was not the only increases found. It was also discovered that HFCS caused a rise in blood fats called triglycerides. The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) has spent $30 million to create a multimedia campaign to scream out to the masses that HFCS is just like sugar. (Engber, 09) The Princeton study, is not proving them wrong but are providing the details that show that while they are basic sugars, not all basic surgars are created equal. First, sucrose is composed of two simple sugars equally while fructose is not.

The ratio in sucrose is 50:50 while fructose is 55:42. Parker, 10) The extra 3% is made up of saccharides, larger sugar molecules. Secondly, Princeton researchers zeroed in on the process in which makes sucrose and HFCS is different.The results showed that the molecues that make HFCS are unbound and free floating. In sucrose the fructose and sucrose molecues are bound to each other causing an extra metabolical process in order to be utilized for energy. This posed a quandary for the researchers.

The rats consumed the same items, same caloric intake, yet those who consumed HFCS gained weight while those who did not, had not gained weight. Parker, 10) A little over a year earlier, the Washington Post published a study confirmed by both Enviornmental Science and Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy that there are traces of mercury in HFCS. “Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury. ” [ (Washington Post, 09) ]

This was result found in many products where HFCS is either the first or second ingredient listed on the label. While the article quote that nearly children and teenagers diet consists of nearly 80% HFCS, they remind readers that mercury at any level is toxic.The CRA responded that the information presented was based on old information and that the industry adapted non-mercury agents and that “these mercury-free re-agents perform important functions, including adjusting pH balances. ” [ (Washington Post, 09) ] Regardless, we as well as our children are or have consumed an ingredient that has toxic traces.

Over a lifetime, imagine what that can do to the human body. The CRA has been very careful when attacking the fear that HFCS is envoking. According to their website, they maintain the stance that HFCS are all natural.The page opens up with their statement that HFCS “…are natural and meet the Food and Drug Administration’s policy for use of the term “natural. ” (CRA, 09) They also side step the specifics of the HFCS make up claiming that HFCS simply is “like table sugar, is composed of fructose and glucose” but that it is also “found in many other naturally-occurring foods”.

In the end they seem to quietly divert blame to the FDA by stating the FDA “has not established a formal definition of the term “natural” for food ingredients” but that they qualify for natural under the current definition.This is still despite the Washington Post article confirming that the FDA has the mercury information. While many of these studies continue to support the Princeton research, the CRA will continue to spend countless amounts of money to combat the findings. Though in the last decade this issue has become more promient, it will probably continue for years to come. In the meantime, obesity related diseases continue to rise.

The cure is just out of reach but it seems that we can indivually take a stand. With many products using HFCS for various amount of sweetning, we can limit our in take.Limiting our in take is as simple as reading the labels of the food and drink you consume. Limit your fast food intake as well. While this seems to be old fashion or time consuming to some, we need to revert back to the days where meals where made from scratch. Cut up fresh vegetables and fruits and limit processed foods. Canned foods, frozen foods and even the juice we drink is laden with some form of HFCS.

If we as consumers take responsibility for our own food in take, we may be able to reverse the (potential and known) effects of the ingredient in our bodies.As mentioned earlier, 80% of what children consume has some form of HFCS. With the increase in obesity (both child and adult) as well as other syndromes like ADD and Autism, can we assume that our food is to blame? Thinking about the age old idiom of “we are what we eat”, are we making our bodies and later our creating our children bodies to fall victim to these now chronic disorders? We have always heard to limit our sugar intake to retard the hyperactive tendencies.

With that assumption the use of basic sugars have always sent off alarms when it comes to those with hyperactivity disorders.The association between sugar and hyperactivity disorders began by a Harvard researcher in the the 1960’s. He claimed his findings showed that certain food colorings and sugars caused ADHD in children. (Ayoob) Though it has been said that this researchers findings could not be reproduced, the statement has stuck for years.

Many mothers refuse to give their children sugar for fear of over stimulation. They were right, to an extent. As many know, sugar does produce spurts of energy as it is being digested. Couple that with a child and you have one bouncy human being.With each person metabolizing sugar a bit differently, mistakes or a misdiagnosis can easily be made. It would be easy to initially mistaken a sugar high child for one with with ADD or any other related syndrome. An unknowing parent, may not know how much sugar the child is consuming and mistakenly percieves this as a “problem child” with a hyperactive disorder.

The parent in turn speaks with a doctor, discusses all the symptoms and after a series of tests, the truth comes to light. I have a child that has a level of autism and ADHD.It was suggested to me, much like Dr. Anne Kelly suggests, that eliminating chemicals from their diets can help limit ADHD triggers. Dr. Kelly also shares how children with these disorders are more sensitive to toxins found in food. Toxins like the previously mentioned mercury found in HFCS. [ (Howard, 10) ] I have children, I have family members and friends affected by obesity and its consequences.

I am not within my BMI, and neither are most people I know but what this assignment has taught me is that we shouldn’t take for granted what we consume.For a period of time while researching and writing this paper, I thought what it would entail to grow my own garden. While I am sure that there will be a lot of trial and error, I just might be able to do something small at least. Meanwhile, I will pratice what I preach and pay attention to labels as I shop for groceries. Sadly, time management is an issue as I juggle both my children and their schooling with my own.

We are a busy family just like many others. An effort must and will be made to pay attention to the items I purchase. Normal, quick and easy items I would purchase would now be turned into treats if even that.As I sit here and contemplate, I can see where an undertaking of this nature would be life altering in a sense. How I allocate my time, my childrens time besides what we consume is all under review. My mind wonders to what kitchen appliances and utenzils do I have to upkeep this adjustment, what do I have to buy or learn how to do myself. I was raised in a busy working family where many of my own meals were microwaved.

Though I try hard now to not make that a normal occurance for my children, it happens more often than I would care to admit.Though the research and arguments will continue for years to come, I will take action today. I will make strides for my family and friends to choose healthier alternatives and maybe even find joy in cooking. Bring cooking back to what it once was, a family event. Where family can come together and catch up, talk and reconnect. Who knew that research could lead to life adjustements.

Works Cited

  1. Ayoob, K. -T. (n. d. ). High Fructose Corn Syrup and ADD/ADHD in Children: Is There a Link or Is It a Myth? Retrieved 12 08, 10, from Sweet Surprize: http://www. sweetsurprise. com/hfcs-and-your-family/your-childs-diet/hfcs-adhd CRA. (09, 12).
  2. CORN SWEETENERS ARE NATURAL. Retrieved 12 08, 10, from Corn Refiners of America: http://www. corn. org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/CornSweetenerNatural. pdf
  3. Engber, D. (09, 04 28).The decline and fall of high-fructose corn syrup. Retrieved 12 08, 10, from Slate Magazine: http://www. slate. com/id/2216796 Howard, C. (10, 02 26).Toxins in our food may play a role in neurobehavioral problems. Retrieved 12 08, 10, from Peoria Journal Star Online: http://www. pjstar. com/features/x2112775064/
  4. Toxins-in-our-food-may-play-a-role-in-neurobehavioral-problems Parker, H. (10, 03 22).A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain. Retrieved 12 08, 10, from Princeton Univeristy News Online: http://www. princeton. edu/main/news/archive/S26/91/22K07/
  5. Sweet Surprize. (n. d. ).Fructose Availability. Retrieved 12 08, 10, from Sweet Surprize: http://www. sweetsurprise. com/myths-and-facts/faqs-high-fructose-corn-syrup/fructose
  6. Washington Post. (09, 01 29).Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury. Retrieved 12 08, 10, from Washington Post Online: http://www. washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/26/AR2009012601831. html

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