May 262010
Gimme some sugar, baby.

All sugar is not created equal. (Image courtesy of Uwe Hermann on Flickr)

We have alluded to the nutritional atrocity that is high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS),  in the past, but now there’s a fair bit of clinical ammunition to back particular assertion that up.

And by “fair bit,” we mean “a couple of headshots using a railgun with Quad Damage.”

The BFG10K in question was some research done at Princeton University, which studied weight gain in rats. Using two different control groups – one eating plain rat chow, and one getting rat chow and a sugar-water concoction approximating a soft drink – rats that were washing their kibble down with a HFCS-sweetened beverage gained much more weight, as well as exhibited a greater number of markers for serious health issues in humans. These markers include elevated levels of triglycerides, more visceral fat, and the beginnings of what is called “metabolic syndrome” (in a nutshell, this is the body becoming less-sensitive to insulin; in other words, pre-diabetic). How much more weight? Nearly fifty percent more than the rats getting the same number of extra calories from drinking sugar water.

The science as to why HFCS is so bad is still uncertain. Hypotheses include the ease of absorption because it’s delivered in a liquid (which is easier to digest than solid food) and the fact that HFCS-supplied fructose doesn’t need to be separated from the glucose molecule that it’s bound to when it enters the body via regular sugar (sucrose). Another possibility is that, because it’s broken down slightly differently by the body, rogue fructose causes greater (and faster) fat generation.

Suddenly makes you want to consider reaching for one of those “Throwback” soft drinks, or stocking up the next time you head to one of the countries where they still sweeten theirs with cane or beet sugar instead, doesn’t it? Or maybe even head straight to the diet stuff if you need to get a fizzy fix.

Then you end up reading something like this, and vow never to drink anything but black coffee, green tea, fresh-squeezed juice, and water, and never touch another pre-sweetened drink for as long as you live.

There are worse decisions you could make, really.

Also, this just in: sun rises in east, sets in west.

[Thanks to a friend of ShrinkGeek for sending us that “Worst Drinks” item.]

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  2 Responses to “HFCS is bad for you. Next up: Water is wet”

  1. We know HFCS is bad, but I’d be curious to see an article comparing it to high maltose corn syrup, which may be developing into the next big cheap sweetener. It has a different name, so it can’t be villianized so easily, right? =/

  2. I’ve been feeling extra harsh on HFCS lately since TV (or at least the Food Network) has been deluged with those awful self-righteous HFCS ads.

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