Study: Sugar & HFCS Not As Identical As Some Would Have You Believe

While the corn industry waits on the FDA to decide whether or not it can have high fructose corn sugar (HFCS) relabeled with the marketing-friendly “corn sugar” label, it continues to push home its assertion that the human body reacts the same, whether the sweetener is HFCS or table sugar. But a new study claims that just isn’t the case.

“Although both sweeteners are often considered the same in terms of their biological effects, this study demonstrates that there are subtle differences,” says co-author Dr. Richard Johnson of the University of Colorado. “Soft drinks containing HFCS result in slightly higher blood levels of fructose than sucrose-sweetened drinks.”

Their study looked at 40 men and women who each consumed 24 ounces of soft drinks sweetened with either HFCS or sucrose. Those who drank the HFCS beverage demonstrated higher levels of uric acid and increased systolic blood pressure.

From the abstract of the study, published in the appropriately titled journal, Metabolism: “Compared with sucrose, HFCS leads to greater fructose systemic exposure and significantly different acute metabolic effects.”

While the study shows that there appears to be an immediate difference in how one’s body processes the two sweeteners, researchers say that the next step is to study the long-term differences, if any, between sugar and HFCS.

The “corn sugar” name is a topic of dispute between the corn industry and the sugar refiners of the nation. The two parties are currently involved in a lawsuit over the Corn Refiners Association’s ad campaign, which Big Sugar called “false and misleading.” Big Corn says the lawsuit is an attempt to “stifle free speech.”

Meanwhile, it has been reported that some folks at the FDA are none-too-taken by the Corn Sugar campaign, considering that the regulators have yet to rule on the name and already have “corn sugar” on the books as an acceptable name for dextrose.

Researchers look at effects of two common sweeteners on the body [UC Denver news]
Effects of high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose on the pharmacokinetics of fructose and acute metabolic and hemodynamic responses in healthy subjects [Metabolism]