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High-Fructose Corn Syrup = Bad News

June 10, 2010

Junk Food or What

Mark Morford’s column in the San Francisco Chronicle takes on several weight- and food-related topics, such as the effect of obesity on the U.S. military, freshness expiration dates, and the unholy alliance between a certain well-known anti-cancer fundraising organization and a certain prominent fast-food chain. (This same chain, incidentally, gives you something to put on your biscuits that it calls honey sauce, the main ingredient of which is  — guess what controversial sweetener?)

This is what Morford says about high-fructose corn syrup, aside from characterizing it as synthetic goop and nasty swill:

It’s inextricably tied into the federal corn subsidy and the impenetrable farm bill, which in turn is guarded like the Pope’s own porn collection by one the most powerful, ruthless government lobbies in America. Upshot: Until the Obama admin takes on the brutal farm lobby, this gummy poison is going to keep right on making everyone thick and fat and stupid.

Mark, don’t hold back — tell us how you really feel! The author was in a state of high dudgeon because he had just read Hilary Parker’s report about the Princeton University study, the results of which indicate that, calorie for calorie, HFCS makes rats fatter than refined sugar does. Probably people, too. And if people are anything like rats, then they share a tendency to develop a lot more belly fat, and a system awash with circulating triglycerides, all of which correlates neatly with the known risk factors for cancer, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and high blood pressure.

Arun Gupta recently explained the government connection more thoroughly, when he was interviewed by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now (and we’ve covered it earlier on this blog). He explains that the high subsidies enjoyed by the corn industry serve to lower the cost of corn, which would not otherwise be competitive with sugar as a sweetener. The tariffs that prevent sugar from being imported keep the price of domestic sugar higher than it would otherwise be, so it’s cheaper for food companies to use HFCS. In other words, government interference with farm economics is a very large causative factor in the obesity epidemic.

But wait — there’s more! Fructose, one of the ingredients that makes junk food so highly and irresistibly pleasurable, also scars the liver, skews the body’s relationship with insulin, and has a number of other unwholesome effects, according to medical researchers at Duke University. Somebody found toxic mercury in samples of the stuff, and now a “ban-HFCS” page on Facebook has nearly 145,000 fans. There is also talk of gout, pancreatic cancer, metabolic syndrome, and numerous other undesirable outcomes.

According to Werner Knoepp, Director of Research and Product Evaluation at LeQuadrillage, a health and wellness information website, HFCS messes with the body’s regulating system that tells us whether we’re hungry or not, and keeps it permanently set on “hungry.” He also suggests that, whatever strange symptoms and untraceable aches and pains might plague a person, getting off sugar of every kind for about three months will probably make a noticeable difference.

Finally, as if that weren’t enough, HFCS seems to be killing the bees, and that is very bad news indeed. So — save the bees, save the kids — kick high-fructose corn syrup to the curb!

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “10 amazing truths you already suspected,” San Francisco Chronicle, 04/30/10
Source: “A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain,” News at Princeton, 03/22/10
Source: “Bacon as a Weapon of Mass Destruction,” Democracy Now, 08/03/09
Source: “Fructose Containing Beverages Linked to Liver Scarring,”, 03/18/10
Source: “High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar and Your Health – Sugar, an Unhealthy Necessity,” EzineArticles
Source: “Bee Healthy for Your Honey,” Miller-McCune, 02/13/10
Image by therealbrute, used under its Creative Commons license.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2010 4:46 PM

    Do you have any more outlandish things to say about high fructose corn syrup? All this fear-mongering doesn’t help American’s make better health choices. Oh, and agricultural subsidies are an easy villain, but when it comes to high fructose corn syrup, you’re way off. Corn, unlike sugar, is traded on the market. And if you look at a can of soda, ag subsidies constitute a imperceptibly small amount of its cost (less than a penny).

    • June 21, 2010 3:45 PM


      Thanks for your feedback.

      Pat Hartman has provided six news citations for this piece on HFCS. To say that corn is traded on the market does not add anything to this discussion. Agricultural subsidies skew the market — that’s what they’re designed to do. The question at hand is whether or not the U.S. Government is subsidizing obesity by skewing the market for sweeteners. If you’ve got something to add to the discussion, bring it.



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