The United States leads the way in high fructose corn syrup intake with a staggering 55 lbs/person/year average. Although it is common knowledge that a high sugar diet is the leading risk factor in developing type II diabetes, it is now becoming more clear that HFCS is the primary culprit.
A brief lesson in sugar
In the U.S. HFCS is the chief sweetener used, particularly in processed foods. It's used in thousands of consumer items including bread, cereals, lunch meats, yogurts, soups, condiments and almost any other packaged food you can think of. Because HFCS is made artificially cheap by government subsidies it is used in greater quantities and more foods than sucrose (table sugar).
Sucrose or table sugar is a combination of 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. HFCS is also a combination of fructose and glucose, only with a higher percentage of fructose. Fructose is fruit sugar. In its natural state (in fruit) paired up with fiber it has a much slower absorption rate, which means no spike in insulin levels and no increased risk for diabetes. This is why fructose in fruit is very different from refined fructose in corn syrup.
A study published in the journal Global Health compared the availability of HFCS to diabetes rates in 43 countries. The results showed a 20% increased incidence of diabetes in countries where the sweetener was available, compared to countries where it was not. What's even more interesting is that there was no difference in overall calorie or sugar consumption between countries that used HFCS and those that did not. This suggests an independent link between diabetes and the corn based sweetener.
We don't need a study to tell us what we already know
Researchers also realize that because the study found a link, that doesn't necessarily translate to a direct cause/effect relationship. That said, there is no denying the negative health consequences of consuming large quantities of refined fructose. HFCS along with the many other detrimental ingredients in processed and packaged foods are no doubt a leading cause of diabetes and many other diseases.
It will likely be impossible to design a study that is able to pinpoint precise cause/effect relationships of this class of diseases because there are so many variables and risk factors to consider. It is common sense however to realize that studies like this only confirm what we already know; A combination of simple lifestyle choices is the easiest way to avoid chronic disease.
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About the author:
John Mckiernan is a health and fitness writer. He is the owner of Supplement Helper where he writes supplement reviews and more. He also manages CNA Info, a small blog aimed at answering questions for anyone interested in CNA work.
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