New study (again) shows ‘there is a difference between HFCS and table sugar’

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January 6, 2015

Rat eating fast foodThe start of a new year brings news of new findings that add to the growing body of scientific evidence implicating high fructose corn syrup as a major contributor to today’s health problems.

On Monday, a team of biologists at the University of Utah announced the results of a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation and scheduled for publication in the March 2015 issue of The Journal of Nutrition. The study compared the effects of table sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup on mice given an otherwise healthy diet. One group received 25 percent of its calories from a mix of fructose-glucose monosaccharides like that in high-fructose corn syrup, while a second was fed an equivalent amount of sucrose.

According to the researchers, female rodents on the fructose-glucose diet had death rates 1.87 times higher than those on the sucrose diet, and produced 26.4 percent fewer offspring.

The study’s senior author, Biology Professor Wayne Potts, called it “the most robust study showing there is a difference between high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar at human-relevant doses.”  He emphasized the importance of such research by noting that “when the diabetes-obesity-metabolic syndrome epidemics started in the mid-1970s, they corresponded with both a general increase in consumption of added sugar and the switchover from sucrose being the main added sugar in the American diet to high-fructose corn syrup.”

James Ruff, the study’s lead author and a post-doctoral fellow in biology, said whatever caused the difference in mortality and reproduction in the female mice fed the two different sweeteners had to have happened “at the point of absorption or before – not once it is in the bloodstream, liver or brain.” He speculated that this could be related to the way they affected gut bacteria, given that “other research has shown differences in bacterial communities in the gut to be associated with metabolic diseases in rodents and in humans.”

Ruff also noted that on a worldwide basis, HFCS represents only about eight percent of sugars consumed, while it makes up 42 percent of the added sugars in the American diet. He added that a number of previous studies on both rodents and humans had linked consumption of pure fructose consumption to metabolic problems such as insulin resistance, obesity and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. (Fructose, as we noted in a previous blog, can now be the term used to describe HFCS-90, a sweetener containing 90 percent fructose that falls outside the official Food and Drug Administration-approved definition of high fructose corn syrup.)

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Those previous studies include a number that we’ve cited in past Food Identity Theft blogs. They include:

  • A University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine study that found countries using high-fructose corn syrup had rates of diabetes that were about 20 percent higher than countries that didn’t mix the sweetener into foods. Those differences remained even after researchers took into account data for differences in body size, population, and wealth.
  • A University of California at Davis study of examined 48 adults between the ages of 18 and 40, which found that those who consumed high fructose corn syrup for two weeks as 25 percent of their daily calorie requirement had increased blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, which have been shown to be indicators of increased risk for heart disease
  • A Princeton University study thatfound 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, as well as abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.
  • A Georgia Health Sciences University study of 559 adolescents, who consume more fructose than any other age group, which found such higher fructose consumption to be associated with multiple markers of cardiometabolic risk.
  • A University of Florida College of Medicine study showing that high fructose consumption can result in leptin resistance, a condition associated with weight gain and obesity.
  • A Rutgers University study that found soft drinks sweetened with HFCS may contribute to the development of diabetes, particularly in children, attributed to “astonishingly high’ levels of reactive carbonyls in those beverages, which were not present in table sugar,.