"There are so many myths, inaccuracies and untruths associated with this sweetener that we felt it was necessary to set the record straight," said Audrae Erickson, president, Corn Refiners Association. "We hope to provide balanced information about high fructose corn syrup to allow consumers to make informed decisions based on science."
Most of the problem, according to Erickson, stems from the confusion about what high fructose corn syrup really is. "Scientific research continues to confirm that high fructose corn syrup is no different from other sweeteners. It is essentially the same as table sugar and honey, and has the same number of calories," she said.
Consumer Awareness of HFCS Facts Low
A recent national survey indicates that the myths associated with this sweetener have led many consumers to believe that it is different from table sugar.
The survey revealed that two-thirds of household shoppers are aware of high fructose corn syrup, yet they are not aware of the similarities between high fructose corn syrup and table sugar.
-- More than two-thirds of consumers surveyed do not know that high fructose corn syrup and table sugar have the same number of calories
-- Only 19% of survey respondents understand that table sugar and high fructose corn syrup have the same sweetness
-- Almost two-thirds of those surveyed do not understand that high fructose corn syrup contains the same simple sugars -- glucose and fructose -- as table sugar
Campaign Busts Common Myths
Among the frequently published myths, high fructose corn syrup is often labeled unnatural and is accused of being uniquely responsible for obesity.
High fructose corn syrup meets the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's guidelines for the use of the term natural. "HFCS, like table sugar and honey, is natural," Erickson said. "It is made from corn, a natural grain product and contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives.
"Additionally, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that high fructose corn syrup is uniquely responsible for the country's obesity rates. In fact, a recent decision by the American Medical Association concluded that 'high fructose corn syrup does not appear to contribute more to obesity than other caloric sweeteners.'"
"No single food or ingredient is the cause of obesity," said James M. Rippe, cardiologist and biomedical sciences professor at the University of Central Florida. "Eating too many calories and getting too little exercise are primary causes."
The caloric density of high fructose corn syrup and sugar are equal -- four calories per gram. "There is no difference in how the body metabolizes these sweeteners," Rippe said. "They're indistinguishable once they reach the bloodstream."
Consumption of high fructose corn syrup has been dropping in recent years, yet the rates of obesity and diabetes in the U.S. continue to rise, Rippe added. "And in many other parts of the world, obesity and diabetes are on the rise despite having little or no high fructose corn syrup."
Campaign Shares Facts
CRA's new campaign will seek to communicate the facts about HFCS to consumers and opinion leaders.
Newspaper, magazine and television advertisements will be a central component of the campaign, along with on-going outreach efforts to health professionals.
Consumers can find science-based information about high fructose corn syrup at www.sweetsurprise.com.
From the July 21, 2008, Prepared Foods e-Flash