The Controversy Over High Fructose Corn Syrup

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High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

The controversy over high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has several components and is far-reaching. A 2010 petition from The Corn Refiners Association requests the recognized name of high fructose corn syrup be changed to corn sugar on food labels because of the public perception regarding it.

Some companies, responding to the controversy, have stopped using high fructose corn syrup altogether, opting for other sweeteners such as traditional white sugar (sucrose). Changes were made to Hunt’s tomato ketchup, Gatorade, Pepsi Throwback, Mountain Dew Throwback, some Kraft salad dressings, Wheat Thins and Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice, to name a few.


High fructose corn syrup is a combination of glucose and fructose. This combination of two types of sugars has some concerned, primarily because the glucose component can affect blood sugar levels. The fructose can contribute to the deposition of fats in the body because the leptin levels are unstimulated. These two elements can both contribute to body weight gain, as well as complications in blood sugar levels and regulation.


There is some controversy regarding any food that is processed. To make HFCS, kernels of corn are soaked so corn starch may be extracted. Enzymes are then used to turn the glucose in the starch into fructose.

Because the corn industry is so heavily subsidized in the United States, the cost of this process does not increase the cost of the food high fructose corn syrup goes into. In fact, it is such a cheap sweetener, it can affect the food price for the better, or at the very least, the overall cost of manufacturing the final food product.


Related to the other two issues is the concern over how high fructose corn syrup affects human health. A Diabetes Health article sums up the health concerns based on findings from research published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The research showed multiple concerns over the course of ten weeks. These issues include higher triglycerides, higher insulin resistance, higher body weight, higher caloric intake and false feelings of hunger.


Though the controversy over high fructose corn syrup rages on, research into the various components has not conclusively proven that high fructose corn syrup is a health hazard, athough anyone consuming it should limit their intake, as they would with any form of sugar.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than the equivalent of six teaspoons of (any form of) sugar consumption for women; nine teaspoons for men.


A New Name for High-Fructose Corn Syrup. Tara parker-Pope. September 14, 2010. The New York Times: Health.

The Dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Christopher R. Mohr, MS, RD, LDN. August 20, 2008. Diabetes Health.

For Corn Syrup, the Sweet Talk Gets Harder. Melanie Warner. May 1, 2010. The New York Times: Business Day.