June 13 2013
Vicki E. Alger
The war against obesity has taken (another) nasty turn by shaming chubby children. A recent article in Science News, however, suggests one of pop culture’s leading culprits may not be to blame after all.
High fructose corn syrup was not widely used until the 1980s, more than two decades after it was first produced. High sugar prices made it a less expensive alternative for sweetening soda, sauces, and other foods. Public opinion began to turn in 2004 when University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill nutrition scientist Barry Popkin and George Bray of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, released a commentary suggesting that the rise in obesity appeared to track the growing use of high fructose corn syrup.
Still appearance doesn’t mean reality. Some researchers have since replicated the 2004 theory and found that high fructose corn syrup use is declining, but obesity rates continue to rise. Other researchers note that use of cane sugar is on the rise and that replacing one sweetener for another does not makes us better off.
The bottom line is as it’s always been: don’t consume more than you burn off. Eat sweetened foods in moderation, and don’t be taken in by the hype.