Bringing a Myth Down to Size
Over the past few years, there have been reports in the media that consumption of HFCS is linked to obesity. However, those in the scientific community, including the American Medical Association, have found that HFCS does not contribute uniquely to obesity. Additionally, one of the earliest critics of HFCS, Barry Popkin, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, has since publicly retracted his original position, stating, “We were wrong in our speculations on HFCS about their link to weight.”1
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data since 2000 show that obesity and diabetes rates continued to climb even as per capita consumption of high fructose corn syrup measured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture essentially reversed direction and began a steady 15-year period of decline (see data).2 Around the world, obesity levels are also rising even though HFCS consumption is limited outside of the U.S. Refined sugar accounts for about 92 percent and HFCS accounts for about 8 percent of caloric sweeteners consumed worldwide.3
What’s the cause of our rising weight gain? Obesity is a multifactoral problem, but according to the CDC, eating too many calories and not getting enough physical activity is the primary factor.4
1. FoodNavigator-USA.com, Fructose in the firing line, September 16, 2009.
2. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. 2015. Tables 51, 52 and 53 See column I, Per capita consumption (adjusted for loss) lb/yr. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Diabetes Surveillance System. Long-Term Trends in Diagnosed Diabetes. October 2011. CDC, National Center for Health Statistics. Prevalence of overweight, obesity and extreme obesity among adults: United States, trends 1960-62 through 2005-2006. December 2009. Flegal KM, et al. 2010. Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults, 1999-2008. JAMA 303:3. And Flegal KM, et al. 2012. Prevalence of Obesity and Trends in the Distribution of Body Mass Index Among US Adults, 1999-2010. JAMA 307:5. Ogden CL, et al. 2015. Prevalence of obesity among adults and youth: United States, 2011–2014. National Center for Health Statistics data brief, no 219.
3. World Health Organization, Global Database on Body Mass Index, Country comparison – BMI adults % obese (>=30.0), Most recent. See also World Health Organization. January 2015. Obesity and overweight: Fact sheet No 311, and LMC International, Inc. 2014. Sweetener Analysis December 2014.
4. CDC. Causes and Consequences. April 2012.