Editor's note: This article mentions animal studies. We see animal studies receiving attention in the media, and we see government bodies sometimes basing nutritional policy on such work, at least in part. Because this kind of information is being discussed in the public sphere, we bring it to our readers so you may be informed. But talking about animal research does not mean we endorse it. In fact, we do not.
You're not still drinking soft drinks or eating junk food that contains high fructose corn syrup, are you? If you are, new research has a word for you: sucker.
A study from Princeton published in the February issue of the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior (PDF) shows that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), used as a cheap sweetener in everything from Coke to Progresso soup, is not the same as table sugar, namely for the way that it makes you gain 48% more weight.
We wrote about this a year ago, after the study was first completed.
Over 6 months, one group of rats was fed rat chow sweetened with HFCS and another just regular rat chow. The group consuming HFCS showed signed of obesity, like unusual weight gain, and big increases in triglycerides and fat deposits in the belly. Overall they rats on HFCS gained 48% more weight than those on a regular diet.
In an earlier study, the researchers gave one group of rats access to water sweetened with table sugar and another, water sweetened with HFCS. The rats on HFCS gained much more weight than the others. The concentration in the table sugar formula was the same as what is found in some soft drinks, while the HFCS was only half as concentrated as most soda pops.
"Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests," said psychology professor Bart Hoebel. "When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight."
Since HFCS was introduced into the American food supply as a cost-effective sweetener, the population's obesity rate has shot up from 15% in 1970 to nearly 33% today.
High-fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: Increased body
weight, body fat and triglyceride levels (PDF) [Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior]
A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain [Princenton.edu]