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High Fructose Corn Syrup and Diabetes

by Randall Neustaedter OMD

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A new, eye-opening study has taken the novel approach of examining a country’s high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) consumption and correlated that with the incidence of diabetes. This study examines the long-suspected assumption that corn syrup contributes to the rapidly and consistently increasing rise in diabetes in developed countries. No surprise that in this study a high HFCS use by consumers is associated with a higher incidence of diabetes in that country.

The study published in the journal Global Public Health compared 43 countries (Goran et al, 2012). Half of those countries had little or no corn syrup in their foods or citizens’ diets. Countries that consume none or very little HFCS include India, Ireland, Czech Republic, Austria, France, and China. The highest HFCS consuming countries include the US, Mexico, Canada, and Japan. The United States is by far the greatest consumer and the greatest producer of corn syrup. The average American consumes 55 pounds of HFCS per year. Far more than any other country.

Those countries that consume greater amounts of HFCS have a 20 percent higher incidence of diabetes compared to countries that use none or low amounts. This result was unchanged when the study controlled for possible confounding factors such as body size, carbohydrate consumption, and population size.

Corn syrup (fructose) when eaten in excess causes negative metabolic effects including excess weight gain with accumulation of fat and insulin resistance (Stanhope et al, 2009). Insulin resistance leads to diabetes, and this study shows the clear association between corn syrup and the rise in diabetes rates.

Eliminate corn syrup and HFCS from your diets. Avoid processed foods that contain corn syrup, including highly sweetened electrolyte drinks like Gatorade and other soft drinks. Other processed foods that may contain corn syrup include yogurt, breakfast cereals, salad dressing, ketchup, and protein bars.

References:

Goran MI, et al. High fructose corn syrup and diabetes prevalence: A global perspective. Journal of Global Health, 2012, Nov. 28, published online ahead of print.

Stanhope KL, et al. Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2009, 119 (5),1322-1334.

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