High Fructose Corn Syrup and its Role in Obesity
Obesity is a disease that has become a major epidemic in our country. There are several factors that have contributed to this disease and epidemic. It is our genetics, our environment, our behaviors, certain medications and illnesses all play a role in contributing to this epidemic in our country.
One specific environmental factor that has played a major role in this epidemic over the years is an ingredient that is found in many of the processed foods we eat called High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). HFCS is a sugar made from corn that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert some of its glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness. Because of its low price compared to sucrose (table sugar), HFCS is commonly used in many processed foods that Americans consume. HFCS comes in two compositions, HFCS-42 which is 42% fructose and 58% glucose and then HFCS-55 which is 55% fructose and 45% glucose, and is very similar to regular table sugar which is 50% fructose & 50% glucose.
Before HFCS most things in the U.S. that were sweetened were sweetened with cane sugar. Between the mid-70s and the mid-80s, much of the cane sugar used in the U.S. food industry was replaced with HFCS. By making the switch between cane sugar and HFCS in soda and other sweetened drinks it made them cheaper, allowing for things like “super-sizing” to become possible, and contributed to increased caloric intake, and calorie consumption/diet is a major factor also contributing to obesity. Calorie consumption in the U.S. has climbed steadily for many decades. One major source of new calories in the U.S. diet is sweet beverages such as sodas. From 1977-2001 soft drink consumption in the US grew 135 percent and a diet high in fructose has been shown to lead to a more direct formation and storage of fat in the body. Fructose is actually metabolized differently in the body than glucose is. Glucose is transported into the cells of the body by the hormone insulin, fructose is not. Therefore, its ingestion does not stimulate insulin release. This, in turn, means that fructose ingestion does not lead to the insulin-induced rise in leptin. As an increase in insulin and leptin are associated with satiety, and some researchers have theorized that perhaps ingesting fructose instead of glucose leads people to consume more calories because they do not get the right signals to feel full.
High doses of free fructose has also been proven to literally punch holes in the intestinal lining allowing nasty byproducts of toxic gut bacteria and partially digested food proteins to enter your blood stream and trigger the inflammation that we know is at the root of obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, dementia, and accelerated aging.
We are consuming sugar in such larger quantities never before experienced in human history. The average adult consumes 140 pounds of sugar a year versus 20 teaspoons a year 10,000 years ago. High fructose corn syrup is found in very poor-quality foods and filled with all sorts of other disease promoting compounds, fats, salt, chemicals, and even mercury. If we continue to consume these products high sugar, It is estimated that by 2050 1 out of 4 people will become diabetic.
High Fructose Corn Syrup has played such a significant role in the contribution to the obesity epidemic in our country, and its not just affecting adults its affecting our children, More and more kids at younger ages are becoming obese. Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled since 1980, and as of 2012 31% of children ages 2-19 are either overweight or obese in our country. Our Children are so very susceptible to advertisements and are becoming less and less active due to the many technological advances that have occured through out the years. (video games, computers, social media, TV, etc..) Its so very necessary that Americans start changing there diet to help prevent, cure, or resolve obesity and other certain medical complications associated with obesity.