The subject of sugar has become a “sticky” matter.
On Sept. 14 2010, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to change the name of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to “corn sugar.”
The request rests on two primary reasons. First, high-fructose corn syrup is more accurately represented as “sugar.” Second, to provide more clarity to consumers about the nature of this ingredient.
HFCS has taken a bad beating over the past few years. American perception is that HFCS is more harmful or more likely to cause obesity than sugar.
According to the American Dietetic Association, there is little difference between HFCS and sucrose. “Both sweeteners contain the same number of calories (4 per gram) and consist of about equal parts of fructose and glucose. Once absorbed into the blood stream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable.”
It’s easy to lay blame on the sugars, but according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “The key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn’t about short-term dietary changes. It’s about a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, regular physical activity, and balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses.”
David Klurfeld, Ph.D, USDA Agricultural Research Service, says, “This is a marketing issue, not a metabolic issue. The real issue is not high fructose corn syrup. It’s that we’ve forgotten what a real serving size is. We have to eat less of everything.”
If HFCS isn’t the “root” of obesity and is the equivalent of sugar, then why bother with “corn sugar” instead of simply using sugar?
According to the CRA, HFCS was introduced to overcome periodic shortages in sugar availability and resulting price increases (as is the case now,) to avoid the problems posed by sugar’s instability in acidic soft drinks and fruit preparations, bagged sugar’s handling difficulties, and sugar’s functional limitations in certain foods and beverages.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., Nutritionist, Mayo Clinic, posted tips for consumers on MayoClinic.com, “If you’re concerned about the amount of high-fructose corn syrup or other sweeteners in your diet, consider these tips:
• Limit processed foods.
• Avoid foods that contain added sugar.
• Choose fresh fruit rather than fruit juice or fruit-flavored drinks. Even 100 percent fruit juice has a high concentration of sugar.
• Choose fruit canned in its own juices instead of heavy syrup.
• Drink less soda.
• Don’t allow sweetened beverages to replace milk, especially for children.”
Corn Refiners Association (CRA)
American Dietetic Association
Center for Disease Control and Prevention