News flash: Corn syrup isn’t bad for you!
...says a New York Times article in the Sunday business section. Sort of.
Seems that the experts who fingered high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS, as the culprit in America's obesity epidemic are backing away slowly: equal amounts of sugar in a diet would do the same thing, they say. The HFCS used in sodas etc. consists of 55% fructose and 45% glucose, very similar to white sugar, which is 50% fructose and 50% glucose.
OK, fair point. So why aren't food manufacturers using sugar, I wonder? Because it's not subsidized by the government, like petroleum-guzzling corn? Nah.
Meanwhile, soft-drink makers are claiming that advances and efficiencies in packaging — not the advent of a sweetener that costs 20% to 70% less than sugar — led to the supersizing of sodas in the 1980s that just happened to coincide with Americans getting Very, Very Large.
Other interesting tidbits from the article that will make health-conscious eaters' hair stand on end:
- Unlike sugar molecules, which are found in the stalks of sugar cane or beets, HFCS is not found anywhere in corn.
- From 1980 to 2000, consumption of sweetened soda rose by 40%, to 440 12-ounce cans a year per person (emphasis added). The inflation-adjusted price of soda declined by about one-third in the same period.
- Annual per capita consumption of HFCS is down 7%, to 59.2 pounds in 2005, from its peak of 63.7 pounds in 1999.
Seriously, people. Does it matter whether HFCS or sugar is to blame?
You know what's making us fat?
U.S. food manufacturers produce 3,900 calories per day worth of food per person, according to nutritionist Marion Nestle, author of the new book What to Eat. (Which I will report on here, very soon. It's a freakin' tome.) That's almost twice as many as we need to maintain a healthy weight. I guarantee you those calories are not from growing too many organic tomatoes. Sweeter, fattier, saltier foods — or more accurately, processed "food products" made from cheap ingredients — are what we have in abundance in this country. And you know what? The more cheap, "convenient," "vitamin-fortified," "low-fat" crap we have in front of us, the more we're going to stuff down our fat little gullets. Regardless of whether such crap has HFCS in it.
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