High fructose corn syrup is a controversial sugar substitute. The chart below was constructed using USDA data and shows the increase in American sugar consumption from 1970 to 2010.From 1970 to 2010 Americans decreased their cane and beet sugar intake by 35% and increased their consumption of high fructose corn syrup by 9,467%. What this chart shows is the change in American sugar consumption. Instead of eating sugar from sugar cane and beets, Americans have been forced to switch to a sugar substitute extracted from corn starch and synthesized using chemicals. Many scientists and health care providers think this change has resulted in a rapid increase in the prevalence of certain disease conditions in the United States to include Type-2 diabetes and autism.
Change in Sugar Consumption in the U.S.
The overconsumption of sugar has been associated with obesity, diabetes, ADHD, and cardiovascular disease (1-4).High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is technically considered a sugar substitute by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (5).
HFCS has received a lot of attention as evidence suggests that our bodies metabolize HFCS differently than cane or beet sugar.At least two studies show that human consumption of HFCS leads to essential mineral losses and imbalances compared to sucrose or when dietary intake of magnesium is low (6, 7).Essential mineral losses and imbalances create conditions for the development of disease.
To make matters worse, Dufault et al. (2009) reported finding mercury in HFCS samples collected by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigators (8). The mercury residue found in the HFCS samples was thought to be a result of the manufacturing process which may include the use of mercury cell chlor-alkali chemicals. In another study, Dufault et al. (2009) found the peak years for annual consumption of HFCS coincided with the peak growth rates of Autism Spectrum Disorder (9). The table below shows
Consumption of HFCS and % Growth in Autism in CA
Many parents believe HFCS is the cause of autism. Dufault et al. (2012) published an article in the Clinical Epigenetics journal identifying HFCS as a factor likely responsible for the autism epidemic in the U.S. (11). As consumers become more aware of the issues surrounding HFCS, demand for the product has decreased and the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) has responded by filing a request with the FDA to change the name of HFCS to corn sugar. Thankfully, the FDA rejected the request and issued a warning that enforcement action will be levied against food companies listing high fructose corn syrup as corn sugar (10, 12).
Scientists are split over whether HFCS consumption is more damaging than cane and beet sugar.
11. Dufault, R., Lukiw, W.J., Crider, R., Schnoll, R., Wallinga, D., and Deth, R. 2012. A macroepigenetic approach to identify the factors responsible for the autism epidemic in the United States.Clinical Epigenetics, 4:6. http://www.clinicalepigeneticsjournal.com/content/4/1/6