High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has become a stand-in for everything that is wrong with the world. It has been blamed for childhood obesity by a prominent politician, hyped by a famous food activist as the cause of environmental catastrophes, and casually called poison by people who want to police our dinner tables. Both science and common sense beg for skepticism. But now there are five good reasons to call shenanigans on the supposed link between obesity and HFCS. And they’re all published in a recent supplement to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The five papers confirm that the anti-HFCS doctrine—instigated by activists and disseminated by a bewildered media—is groundless. As USA TODAY reports, the studies “find no special link between consumption of high-fructose corn syrup and obesity.” In other words (as we’ve been suggesting for years), HFCS affects our bodies in the same way as regular table sugar. The sugar-is-natural/HFCS-is-evil routine was getting a bit old anyway. So we’re glad that some research is finally validating that, as one researcher put it, “sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup are not that different."
USA TODAY suggests these five papers were a reaction to previous studies—one in the same journal and by the same author—which concluded that there was a link between HFCS and obesity. Those studies, of course, look pretty shaky today. The real lesson here goes deeper than sugar and syrup: Don’t allow half-baked science to metastize into nutritional dogma.