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Corn Refiners Association dances around dangers of HFCS

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The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) announced Dec. 4 the launch of a national, online consumer engagement campaign. It features registered dietitians who promote a healthy lifestyle through caloric balance, including the total sugars in the diet, rather than focus on a specific type of sugar.

According to John Bode president and CEO of the CRA, their goal is to provide the facts about health and nutrition so the consumer can make an informed decision. This is a problem since the consumer has to decide whose facts to believe. While it is true that obesity is caused by increased calories and decreased activity, it isn't true that high fructose corn syrup is no more dangerous than consuming too much cane sugar.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is not a natural product. In fact, it is genetically altered. Cane sugar is composed of one molecule of sucrose and one molecule of fructose. HFCS is composed of 80 percent fructose and 20 percent sucrose. The result is a product sweeter than sugar. Since it is altered, the human body does not process it normally.

To understand what HFCS does to the body, look at this set of facts from Life Extension Magazine:

[...]between 1970 and 1990, the annual intake of HFCS increased by more than 1,000%, greatly exceeding the change in intake of any other food or food group.

[...]for most of human history we consumed no more than about 15 grams of fructose per day (approximately one-half ounce), mostly from fruits and vegetables. In contrast, daily consumption in 1997 was estimated to have increased to 81 grams (nearly three ounces) per day.7

When did Americans begin to see alarming rates of obesity? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled." Until the mid-70s, iced tea sweetened with cane sugar or ice water was the beverage consumed with meals. Sodas gradually replaced water and tea as the beverage of choice.

The consumption of soft drinks has increased five-fold since 1950. Over 70 percent of all foods contain some amount of added sugar. The majority of foods are sweetened with HFCS because it is cheaper to produce and use.

The digital campaign appears on websites such as FoodNetwork.com and within AOL's Food Super Channel network where viewers will see either banner placements or videos featuring Registered Dietitians Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN and Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD.

In the video, Ms. Levinson adds that sugar and high fructose corn syrup are nutritionally equivalent and contain about the same number of calories. Consuming one over the other does not make any nutritional difference.

It is true that too much sugar of any kind is not good for the body, but HFCS can cause major health issues in as little as six months, drinking two sodas a day. What it comes down to is this, the promoters of HFCS want to sell it to the public for profits. Those against the consumption of HFCS aren't selling anything and receive no compensation whether the public consumes it or not.

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