News out of Princeton University informs us that high-fructose corn syrup appears to be bad for you. And not just calories bad. The article’s lead paragraphs read:
A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.
In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States. [source, bold mine]
This is certainly an important experimental result. It could have great implications for the American diet and food industry.
At the risk of being accused of shilling for Big Agra, but with a motive of simply wanting a more accurate understanding, I’d like to point out something that is missing from the study. Recall that the finding boils down to “high-fructose corn syrup” as the independent variable (with table sugar as a control), and health changes as the dependent variables.
Yet there is a slight problem with that first variable. It consists of high-fructose calories from a specific source: corn syrup. Another source of high fructose calories is honey. It is very similar to corn syrup in its ratio of fructose to glucose. I therefore wonder if honey would have caused similar changes in the rats. If so or if not — that’s an important finding. For then we would know if the “corn syrup” part had anything to do with it.
Of course, not many people have diets high in honey. So the practical value of that element wouldn’t be substantial. But the political importance would still be there. For in our culture many people believe that “natural is better.” And while I value many aspects of nature and natural things, I don’t value blind beliefs. Is natural really better, at least in this case of fructose and dietary risks? I’d like to know.