Researchers at Georgia State University just published a study about the effect of high-fructose diets on how well rats can save themselves from a tub of water. Not surprisingly, the results showed that rats hate swimming. But contrary to some reporters’ interpretations, they didn’t show that so-called “high fructose” corn syrup is anything to worry about. (Which isn’t surprising, considering that it doesn’t necessarily contain any more fructose than table sugar.)
The Georgia State researchers fed groups of rats different diets – one group got 60 percent fructose, and abother was a control group – and then placed them in a pool of water to study their memory of where the exit to the pool was. The rats that had been stuffed full of sugar performed worse than the control rats.
But what the researchers have failed to emphasize is why their results don’t really apply to humans:
Although humans do not eat fructose in levels as high as rats in the experiments, the consumption of foods sweetened with fructose — which includes both common table sugar, fruit juice concentrates, as well as the much-maligned high fructose corn syrup — has been increasing steadily [emphasis added] …
"The bottom line is that we were meant to have an apple a day as our source of fructose," Parent said. "And now, we have fructose in almost everything." Moderation is key, as well as exercise, she said.
Anyone who is getting 60 percent of his or her calories from sugar, of course, does not have a balanced diet to begin with. But misinformation about the nature of high fructose corn syrup runs rampant.
Take for example this San Francisco morning-TV segment about the “dangers” of the corn-based sweetener. The so-called expert is actually a “wardrobe stylist/art director.”
There is a consensus in the research community that corn sugar and table sugar are more alike than they are different. In the April 2009 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, biochemistry researcher John S. White wrote that “[high fructose corn syrup] does not pose a unique dietary risk in healthy individuals or diabetics.”When it comes to the two sweeteners, even New York University nutrition professor Marion Nestle acknowledges that “The body really can’t tell them apart.”