Wednesday, July 05, 2006

HCFS and NYT - a real surprise...

Farmers for the most part have little use for the New York Times. It's a little, you know, liberal. But this Sunday it ran a
story they might tolerate.

In the news media and on myriad Web sites, high-fructose corn syrup has been labeled "the Devil's candy," a "sinister invention," "the crack of sweeteners" and "crud." Many scientific articles and news reports have noted that since 1980, obesity rates have climbed at a rate remarkably similar to that of high-fructose corn syrup consumption. A distant derivative of corn, the highly processed syrup was created in the late 1960's and has become a hard-to-avoid staple of the American diet over the last 25 years. It spooks foodies, parents and nutritionists alike. But is it really that bad?

Many scientists say that there is little data to back up the demonization of high-fructose corn syrup, and that links between the crystalline goop and obesity are based upon misperceptions and unproved theories, or are simply coincidental.

"There's no substantial evidence to support the idea that high-fructose corn syrup is somehow responsible for obesity," said Dr. Walter Willett, the chairman of the nutrition department of the Harvard School of Public Health and a prominent proponent of healthy diets. "If there was no high-fructose corn syrup, I don't think we would see a change in anything important. I think there's this overreaction."

There has been a simmering debate about whether high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contributes unduly to obesity by being metabolized differently than cane sugar. Another argument is that by lowering the cost of sweetened foods, pop especially, it makes carb/calorie overload easier.

Maybe neither assertion is right.
This link to the Reason blog is worth reading;

For me, the clincher was that even the head of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Michael Jacobson, who rarely misses an opportunity to spread alarm about the food Americans consume, "never supported the notion that high-fructose corn syrup was a unique contributor to obesity."

Scan the comments. This blog has some of the sharpest writing and analysis I have read, but the ignorance of commodity pricing in the readers is considerable. Nobody connects the dots between a sugar policy that chokes off imports and raises the price of cane sugar 200% above world prices and the adoption of HFCS by the food industry.

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