Does High Fructose Corn Syrup Fit in a Healthy Lifestyle Program?


High fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, has become a ubiquitous source of sweetener for foods produced and sold in the U.S. It’s not so common in other countries, mainly from what I understand is because other countries don’t provide subsidies for growing corn like we do. We have so much inexpensive corn, we can use it for purposes never thought of before. There are lots of problems with this scenario but I’m not going to get into them here. I just want to focus on HFCS and weight.

One of the big questions is whether all the fructose we’re now eating in this country is causing problems with weight gain. Fructose doesn’t stimulate insulin release like other sugars do, but the question is whether it affects other appetite hormones. According to the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, however, “recent studies found no difference in the effect on these hormones, hunger, satiety (the feeling of fullness), or subsequent calorie consumption, compared to other caloric sweeteners. Nonetheless, fructose and HFCS clearly play a role in obesity, but it may be just a matter of extra calories.” Well, I guess that settles it!

Bottom line: To make your healthy lifestyle program work for you, indulge in healthy eating — that means not a lot of any kind of sweetener, but it also means we don’t have to read food labels like hawks to keep out HFCS. Unless we’re trying to keep out HFCS for other reasons…which takes us back to the issue of the other problems with the HFCS production scenario that I said I wouldn’t get into. Too long a story for here, but if you’re interested, read The Omnivore’s Dilemma for a review of how corn is grown in this country and the environmental and potential health impact.

Feels like a heavy conversation for someone who just rolled out of bed (I’m writing this as I watch morning coverage of the Olympics). I’ll close now and get my healthy lifestyle program started for the day. Next up: A winning breakfast!

Have a great day. It’s going to be a stellar one here in Vermont.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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