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High-Fructose Debate

By Jesse Fruhwirth
Posted // January 27,2010 - Yours truly criticized high-fructose corn syrup and suggested U.S. farm subsidies should be adjusted to encourage healthy eating and “make concoctions like high-fructose corn syrup just a scary memory” (see “What Sin Would You Tax?,” City Weekly, Jan. 13). The president of the Corn Refiners Association (see “Corn is Cool,” City Weekly, Jan. 20), provided “misleading” information in response, according to one reader.

The lobby group said high-fructose corn syrup is not subsidized, which technically is true, but “misleading,” according to online commenter Sonny.

“Manufacturers of corn syrups may not receive subsidies but corn growers do,” Sonny wrote, “more than almost all other subsidies, which makes their product incredibly cheap for the corn syrup manufacturers.”

Sonny then proceeded to attack beef subsidies, claiming that they also receive too much government support. Sonny then says, “both subsidies are why America is so obese.”

Corn subsidies have made sweeteners cheaper. To what degree that has contributed to supermarkets being filled with products containing added sweeteners is open for debate. To what degree added and/or artificial sweeteners contribute to the American obesity and diabetes crises is also open, but I have a hard time swallowing that they are not contributors. It seems reasonable for government to reduce subsidies that lower the price of sweeteners to the consumer. Let’s create market conditions that discourage companies from adding sweeteners to non-sweet products—like salad dressing—and already sweet products, like frozen fruit.

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Posted // February 9,2010 at 07:59

High fructose corn syrup is present in only very small amounts in foods and beverages. However, it plays a key role in the integrity of food and beverage products that has little to do with sweetening, such as keeping food fresh, retaining moisture in cereals, keeping breakfast and energy bars moist, enhancing spice and fruit flavors in yogurts and marinades, reducing tartness in salad dressings and to help with browning of breads and baked goods. In addition, two respected, science-based professional organizations, The American Medical Association and The American Dietetic Association have both officially stated that high fructose corn syrup, which contains the same number of calories as sugar, does not contribute to obesity more than any other sugar or other food eaten in excess of calorie needs.


Posted // February 9,2010 at 09:35 -

Spare me. While high-fructose corn syrup may "not contribute to obesity more than any other sugar" it certainly doesn't contribute less, does it? We have an obesity epidemic in this country and high-fructose corn syrup contributes to it. That's the bottom line. You can talk and type till your lips and fingers fall off about how its no less safe than natural sugar, but I don't see how you can get around the fact that, frankly, Americans are consuming too much of the product and the producers aren't doing anything to change that. The propaganda sent to me talked about how HFCS reduces freezer burn on frozen fruit and other endearing attributes; maybe next time they'll send me information about how they're reducing obesity.