Common Sweetener Directly Linked to Obesity Epidemic?

( [email protected] ) Mar 30, 2004 10:18 AM EST

Recent research may have found a direct link between the rising rate of obesity in North America and the introduction of a type of sweetener that's now widely used in processed foods—including sodas and fruit juices.

Consumption rose 1000% over 20 years

Researchers found the sweetener, known as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), appears to work differently than other sugars in that it stifles the body's ability to feel full, encouraging a person to eat more.

Many food manufacturers prefer HFCS to cane sugar, since it's cheaper and tastes sweeter. The study points out that HFCS is used to sweeten all non-dietary US soft drinks and most fruit drinks. Scientists also stated that consumption of HFCS rose more than 1000% from 1970 to 1990.

As much 700 calories/day from HFCS

Researchers reviewed consumption records from the US Agriculture Department from 1967 to 2000, combining those data with previous research and their own analyses.

As a result, they calculated that Americans two years old and older consume an average of 132 calories per day through HFCS.

The study also concluded that the top 20% of consumers of caloric sweeteners in the US ingest an average of 318 calories per day from HFCS. For some, it's as much as 700 calories per day.