Eat Drink Better

Published on April 1st, 2009 | by John Chappell


Sugar Popularity Grows as Backlash to High Fructose Corn Syrup

Four Types of Sugar

A recent New York Times article noted that sugar is making a comeback in American diets as an alternative to High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).

The increased interest in sugar as an alternative to HFCS is attributed partly to HFCS backlash as well as increased PR campaigns and changes in consumer taste.  The change in sugar preference is highlighted by industry figures that note that as recently as 2003 American consumption of sugar was approximately equal to HFCS, but by 2007 the figures had changed and consumers guzzled 44 pounds of sugar compared to only 40 pounds of HFCS

In response to consumer demand, food making giants Pepsi and Pizza Hut have recently rolled out “natural” pizzas and sodas made with “old fashioned” sugar instead of HFCS.  Agro-industrial monolith ConAgra also announced that it would begin production of an HFCS-free line of frozen meals, and Kraft foods declared that it would remove HFCS from its line of salad dressings.  These are just a few examples of large food conglomerates creating new products in response to the recent angst against HFCS.

Another part of the resurgence of sugar can be attributed to the extensive public relations campaigns that are still being waged by industry trade groups on both sides.  For the last year, the Sugar Association had been running an ad campaign to remind consumers that sugar is a naturally occurring element found in all fruits and vegetables.  In response the Corn Refiners Association has mounted a multi-million dollar multi-media advertising campaign designed to woo consumers back to HFCS products.

Though sugar is by no means back in favor with nutrition experts, some declare it the lesser of two evils when compared with HFCS, especially with recent news that HFCS may contain mercury.  Many scientists though still claim that over consumption of sugar or HFCS are both bad for your long term health.

“The argument about which is better for you, sucrose or HFCS, is garbage. Both are equally bad for your health.” Dr. Robert H. Lustig – pediatric endocrinologist at University of California, San Francisco Children’s Hospital.

In general, consumption of any sugar should be limited.  Cane or beet sugar may be closer to a “natural” product (since it undergoes less processing) than HFCS, which is made using chemical reactions and the addition of enzymes and other products.  Regardless of the type of sugar, dietary intake should be limited for optimal health.

Read the original New York Times Ariticle, or read our fantastic Eat. Drink. Better. writers detail that High Fructose Corn Syrup Often Contains Mercury or about the amount of Corn Syrup in Girl Scout Cookies .

Image credit: Romain Behar at Wikipedia under a Creative Commons License.

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About the Author

I'm 33, and a Southern Californian by birth and outlook, but recently relocated to the upper Midwest. You can label me an organic farmer trapped in an accountants brain and body, an enthusiastic yet novice urban homesteader, and a vocal supporter of all things organic, local, wholesome, and old-school.

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