A resolution to lose weight might be as simple as avoiding HFCS in the new year

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December 31, 2013



These days, an awful lot of New Year’s resolutions are vows to lose weight over the coming year.   Unfortunately, many — if not most — of these well-intended promises we make to ourselves sooner or later fall by the wayside.

But some folks are resorting to seemingly radical measures to carry out such vows  — like having a plastic mesh patch surgically stitched to their tongue for a month, making it too painful to attempt to consume solid food and forcing them to switch to a liquid diet until the patch is removed.

While this painful and expensive procedure, — which costs around $2,000 — has reportedly helped subjects to shed some of those excess pounds (at least temporarily), it has also been lambasted by some doctors and nutrition experts, who find it appalling. But I would like to propose a resolution that just might help you become the “big loser” you’d like to be without putting yourself through any such extreme ordeal.

The suggestion is simple: every time you go grocery shopping, examine the ingredients listed on the labels of all processed foods and put back any that include high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS.

Why? Because studies conducted by scientists at prestigious universities and published in peer-reviewed journals have found HFCS  consumption to promote weight gain in one way or another. Which means that a growing body of scientific evidence points to a likely link between ingesting foods in which high fructose corn syrup is used as an additive and becoming overweight or obese.

And that kind of makes sense, when you consider that the massive increase in body mass that has occurred in the U.S. population over the past two or three decades parallels the switch many food companies have made from using sugar in their products to this cheaper, laboratory sweetener, resulting in its addition to countess items on supermarket shelves.

So what, exactly, are the connections that researchers have made between HFCS and becoming, well, fat? Here are summaries of three such studies spanning the last five years:

Yale University Study, “Effects of Fructose vs Glucose on Regional Cerebral Blood Flow in Brain Regions Involved With Appetite and Reward Pathways, “ published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Jan. 2013.

This study found that increases in fructose consumption have paralleled the increasing prevalence of obesity, and high-fructose diets are thought to promote weight gain and insulin resistance, whereas centrally administered glucose promotes satiety. In other words, fructose – especially in the form of HFCS — may contribute to weight gain and obesity because it has minimal effect on brain regions that control appetite.

Princeton University study, “High fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats, increased body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels,”  published in the online journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior,  March 2010.

The Princeton University research team conducting this study found that 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 claimed their work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

University of Florida College of Medicine study,  “Fructose-induced leptin resistance exacerbates weight gain in response to subsequent high-fat feeding,” as reported in The American Journal of Physiology,  November, 2008.

This was the first study to show that high fructose consumption can result in leptin resistance, a condition associated with weight gain and obesity, since leptin is a hormone that plays a role in helping the body to balance food intake with energy expenditure. The study involved two groups of rats tested over a six-month period, at the end of which the rats on the high-fructose diet had higher levels of triglycerides in their blood.

Of course, by making and keeping a resolution to avoid HFCS in the new year, you’ll be avoiding possible risks raised by other studies as well, such as those linking HFCS consumption to diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease and kidney disease.

And it sounds a lot easier than going on a crash diet — and a lot less painful and expensive than having a patch stitched to your tongue.

Have a happy and healthy new year!