Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup Battle in Court, Winner Gets to Make You Fat

June 12, 2011 by , under Nutrition.

sugar growers and high fructose corn syrup corn processors battle in court over false advertising health claims but both are metabolically similar and both will make you fat.

First, the Corn Processors fire off ads mocking the intelligence of those who slight High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Sugar Growers blast back with ads highlighting the manufactured, chemical nature of HFCS in a very unappetizing manner (Remember the school play where a kid says “I’m high fructose corn syrup and I’m chemically altered”? I couldn’t find a link).

Then, the Corn Refiners Association asked the FDA’s permission to allow HFCS to be labeled “corn sugar” and began advertising that moniker before receiving approval. Now, the sugar industry has sued to stop the commercials, claiming false advertising and damages for lost profits and corrective advertising.

Does any of it matter? No. Avoid both. The only winner in this battle is the lawyers. Why? Click ‘more’ for the bullet points…

  • Sugar (aka Sucrose) is 50% glucose / 50% fructose.
  • HFCS is 45% glucose / 55% fructose (there are other versions, but this is what’s used in beverages)
  • Metabolically speaking, they’re processed the same by your body. How they are produced is irrelevant
  • The glucose is absorbed directly into the bloodstream, triggering an insulin response and gets stored as fat immediately. Higher sugar content equals a larger insulin response equals more stored as fat.
  • The fructose is processed by your liver and, when consumed in rapid abundance (ie. drinking a soda), gets processed into and stored as fat.
  • In other words, both are equally good at making you fat.
  • Continued overconsumption of either sugar or HFCS is likely to lead to insulin resistance and Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, heart disease and high cholesterol, among other health risks.
  • Even slightly elevated levels of blood glucose produce Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs) that cause hardening of the arteries, inflammation and lead to high blood pressure, arthritis and more. They also interfere with the vascular dilation (read: erectile disfunction) and vascular permeability (read: holes in your arteries).
  • In the absence of glucose, your body will burn fat for energy.


Ignore the news and courtroom drama. If you want to be healthy and get/stay lean, avoid Sugar, Fructose and HFCS in any form. Whole fruit, in most cases, contains far less fructose than sugary beverages and snacks, and can be eaten in moderation without harm. Just skip the juice.


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2 Responses to “Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup Battle in Court, Winner Gets to Make You Fat”


Comment by ?.

Wait a minute. Glucose isn’t automatically stored as fat. Glucose is also stored as glycogen in skeletal muscles and in the liver. It’s what fuels muscles in anaerobic activity. Furthermore, it’s the ONLY thing the brain metabolizes as energy. As you said, sugar consumption in moderation is key … but avoiding it completely would be a mistake.


Comment by Tyler (Editor).

True, the muscles will store glucose as glycogen, particularly after exercise, but the amount they can store is comparatively limited. As glucose is absorbed from food and drink, it triggers an insulin response. The insulin is what let’s the muscles and fat store the glucose. Supposing you were able to completely eliminate any sugar from your diet, your body will produce it’s own glucose from it’s fat stores and any protein consumed through gluconeogenesis. That said, if you’re eating any fruits or vegetables, you’re getting more than enough glucose and/or fructose for normal living. I avoid added sugar and grains most of the time and am still able to perform well on the bike and in the gym. I think most people overestimate the need for carbs and sugars, particularly for athletic endeavors.

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