Following the various crusades of Marion “the Contrarian” Nestle has been a hobby of ours for many years. Remember when she declared that college students are incapable of determining whether they should eat cereal? Or when she called for the food industry to be subjected to “the same kind of attention as purveyors of drugs or tobacco”? We have to admit that we enjoy Nestle’s wacky theories, like “the food industry and the government are in a conspiracy to get people to eat more.” But like a stopped clock, even Nestle is right sometimes.
While nutrition nannies continue to baselessly assert that high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, is the bane of humanity — or “the crack of sweeteners” — Nestle has decided that she won’t jump on that bandwagon. In her most recent column for The San Francisco Chronicle, she was forced to admit that HFCS “is not poison. It is just sugar in liquid form.”
It’s true. Decades of scientific research show that HFCS affects our bodies in the same way as regular sugar.
A major study published two years ago found that consuming HFCS has the same physical effect as drinking a glass of milk. Another study of the effects of plain sugar and HFCS on lean women “found no differences in the way the two forms of energy were metabolized.” And just this summer, the American Medical Association issued a report stating that “it appears unlikely that HFCS contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose.”
Even The Washington Post, which has previously smeared HFCS, now admits that it is wrongheaded to finger “things such as HFCS instead of looking at overall calorie consumption.” And as the The New York Times pointed out about the HFCS-obesity link, “many scientists say that there is little data to back up the demonization of high-fructose corn syrup.”
But when the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) tries to make the same point in an ad campaign, Nestle reflexively pushes back and calls the advertisements “insulting” and “offensive.”
However, the CRA is arguing precisely what Nestle believes, that the food cop villain du jour is“basically no different from table sugar.”
In fact, Nestle only differs with CRA in her dietary recommendation: that the best approach to HFCS “is not moderation.”
We disagree. As she herself once said, "I think people should use their common sense. Any food is reasonable; just don’t eat too much of it."