Princeton Researchers say High-Fructose Corn Syrup Does Make You Fat — Let’s see how long before the PR folks for the corn industry block this information.

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

Found by Rasvan via Twitter.

  1. Joe says:

    #30, the difference is the volume of fructose consumed. It’s hard to overeat fructose from fruits but much easier if your chugging it down in soda.

  2. Lou Minatti says:

    Adam “Magik Earthkwake Machine” Curry has been ranting about this, and based upon his track record it’s safe to say this story is bullshit.

  3. Greg Allen says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve long wondered if the problem was corn syrup or just that so many people are walking around constantly sipping on jugs full Cokes and super grande Frapuchinos.

    This seems like a legitimate study but I have a hard time believing those same people would be much less fat if those drinks where made with cane sugar.

  4. Milo says:

    Read along with this article about the evils of corn, written years ago:

    You think you are avoiding corn in your diet? The fact is that… you can’t!

    “Corn starch is used in virtually every bread or pastry you can buy in a major chain grocery store. And with a few scattered exception, every bread you can buy anywhere else too.

    Corn starch, syrup and cellulose are used in every medicine you can put in your mouth.

    Then there’s the sugar. Any time you see the simple word sugar on an ingredient list you can substitute “corn syrup.” That means in soda, in cookies, in candy bars, even in BAGS OF SUGAR. And not just sugar. Almost every sugar-free sweetener on the market today is made from a corn product.

    But just because it doesn’t taste sugary doesn’t mean you’re clear. Corn syrup, starch and/or oil is added to french fries, peanut butter, saltines, steak sauce, table salt, margarine, iced tea, fruit juice (even ones that claim to be 100% juice), “raw” honey, fish sticks, soy milk, wine, beer, liquor, chicken nuggets, flour, barley, caramel, Vitamin C, vanilla extract, vinegar and/or yeast. Corn-derived glycerin is found in almost every soap, lotion, toothpaste and shampoo.

    Anything on the label you can’t pronounce is better than even odds to be corn.”

  5. Animby says:

    # 28 bobbo, said “…our government artificially keeps cane sugar prices high and keeps Cuban sugar off the market thus making HFCS even cheaper than it would be otherwise.”

    I won’t argue your points, I think they may be partly true. But, a major reason we have so much HFCS is because we grow SOOOO much corn! And the government just keeps paying the farmers to grow more. I don’t remember the exact percentage but it’s around 70% of the corn grown isn’t even edible without processing. We gotta do SOMEthing with all the inedible corn. You feed some to the cattle, make ethanol out of a bunch of it, various food products like corn starch and corn oil, some plastics, and you’ve still got 20% of a huge crop of corn sitting there. Corn syrup! Eureka!

  6. meetsy says:

    @ben “I think our food is becoming artificial.”

    You THINK it is BECOMING artificial?
    I have an assignment for you google all of the following words and see how they are made:

    Hydrogenated oil
    HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)
    Chlorinated Sugar (aka splenda)
    Aspartamine (diet anything)
    Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HBP)

    Then read the ingredients of all the packages of food that you pick (cupboards or off the shelf of a grocery store). Now tell me….why is it that: peanut butter has had HFCS added, the peanut oil removed and partially hydrogenated rapeseed (canola) oil placed in it?
    Why would it be normal to put a witches brew in bread? Bread is flour, yeast, water, maybe a sweetener (sugar, honey) a little salt.
    So, why is THIS what is in commercial fluffy white bread: Whole wheat flour, water, wheat gluten, high fructose corn syrup, contains 2% of less of: soybean oil, salt, molasses, yeast, mono and diglycerides, exthoxylated mono and diglycerides, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium iodate, calcium dioxide), datem, calcium sulfate, vinegar, yeast nutrient (ammonium sulfate), extracts of malted barley and corn, dicalcium phosphate, diammonium phosphate, calcium propionate (to retain freshness).

    Because all of the “nutrition” has been processed out and they have to put some of it back.

    Our food is already fake…seriously, check it out.

  7. raddad says:

    #32, Chemist here. Many fruits contain a lot of fructose. A can of hfcs soda and 1.2 cup of raw grapes contain about the same amount of free fructose.

  8. Joe says:

    #38, Grapes are particularly high in fructose/calories and are the outlier in the fruit world. I’m thinking more like apples, oranges, bananas, etc… Much harder to eat 8 servings of those in one sitting vs. a 64-oz Big Gulp.

  9. amodedoma says:

    A recent article in the Washington post showed that over half of the HFCS commercially available were contaminated with mercury. Now you know what the secret ingredient in coca-cola is. I’ve been working on detoxing my mercury levels, only to discover just how tainted the food supply really is. Not to worry though, your government is busily protecting the interests of those that would poison and enslave you. Remember lead in paint and (gasp) gasoline? Or how bout those PCB’s, so very cancerous. Must be great to be a thalidomide baby. Gee I wonder if GM foods are safe, just wait a few generations and see. Fools, be careful of what you put in your bodies, or suffer the consequences.

  10. bobbo, int'l pastry chef and healthy eater says:

    Joe–thanks for the link at #31. Always good to see the chemical reactions.

    While googling, I came across fact that banannas are the second highest fructose fruit==but I assume they have a lot more fiber than grapes and therefore remain healthy?

    Also recall reading years ago how corn had been genetically bred to be sweeter than nature provided. Also seems to me that carrots are becoming the vegetarian’s candy now they are so sweet. “You know”–slice carrots, boiled al dente, then pan fried in butter, honey and brown sugar. Hmmmmm good. Too bad its poison.

  11. Bob says:

    I guess its a good thing our government is now in the insurance business then. HFCS will be made illegal in a few years, after all, it causes health care costs to rise, and now that the government is footing the bill we can’t have that, freedom of choice be dammed.

  12. Bobo says:

    Here is my anecdotal story. If I drink Coke with HFCS, I get a stomach ache. If I drink Coke with sugar (like the Kosher stuff), my stomach is fine.

    Why is that?

  13. meetsy says:

    High Fructose Corn Syrup (also called isoglucose) and fructose are NOT the same thing.
    For one, naturally occurring fructose in fruit is a simple sugar, called a monosaccharide. (The simplest of sugars and very easy for the body to break down.)
    HFCS is made up of glucose and fructose, which are the two components of HFCS — a blend of (fructose) a monosaccharides and sucrose (a disaccharide) linked together with a relatively weak glycosidic bond. (Disaccharides are formed when two monosaccharides are joined together and a molecule of water is removed.) So, HFCS is NOT like pure fructose, it’s like a super hybrid sugar.

    How to make high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
    take some corn…grind it into a fine cornstarch. Add the enzyme glucoamylase (an enzyme found in your body, made by the pancreas. Amylase is an enzyme that breaks starch down into sugar). In this case it is is the enzyme is produced by fungi, especially those in the aspergillus genus. The corn starch is broken down, similar to making alchol, into a slurry that is almost pure glucose. The next step is adding an enzyme called glucose-isomarse (which is the common name, but is actually: xylose isomerase )ann enzyme that catalyzes the chemical reaction to partially change the glucose to fructose.
    Then a process called liquid chromatography (a process that separates the different ions, that is near impossible to explain in language that is NOT science wonk.) The corn refiners association just says “it’s distilled into 90% syrup fructose”. The concentrated fructose product is then blended back into the original mix to create the final 55% fructose, 45% glucose product called high fructose corn syrup.
    This is not cheaply made, nor is it a simple sugar. It’s nothing like what has been found in nature and your body has no clue how to handle it. Hence, it just shorts out and stores it. FAT is the result, as well as pancreatic problems, liver problems, blah blah blah.
    Don’t believe the crap that publishes on their idiot website. The Corn Refiners Association is not your friend!!!

  14. raddad says:

    It doesn’t matter how fructose (or any chemical for that matter) is made. It could be from fruit, corn starch or a charcoal brickette. The process could involve heat, enzymes, mold, whatever. In the end it is fructose and indistinguishable from any other fructose from any other source.

    Also, honey is very close to hfcs. The main difference is that honey contains more impurities.

    Perhaps we should live in the wild, eating plants we harvest and animals we kill. No cooking, because that is unnatural and any sugar will come from chewing on sugar cane stalks.

    (Am a chemist in clinical diagnostics)

  15. Somecalmetim says:

    Isn’t it also true that because we don’t process HFCS the same as real sugar our bodies don’t “get their fix” from it and are left craving more? This whole topic pisses me off but it is so hard to find real food.

  16. meetsy says:

    @raddad….you sort of don’t get it, do you?
    Lets think about Hydrogenated oils (in everything, as it increases the shelf for nearly EVER). Simple. You add another atom of hydrogen to an oil. Great. What if you add another oxygen atom to water? Instead of H20 you get H2O2. Go drink that when you are thirsty! Your body does not, will not, cannot process that in the same way. (H2O2 is hydrogen peroxide..btw, if you didn’t know.)
    So, why would anything think that a hydrogenated oil would be the same to the human body? It’s a NEW COMPOUND. It has a long shelf-life because it doesn’t rot. Bacteria and yeasts cannot recognize it as food. Even bugs are loath to swarm it.
    Funny, but the main ways WE digest food is by breaking it down and using bacteria and enzymes to rot the food in our gut.
    What do you think happens when they come to something that is basically inedible? They store what they can (potentially unable to derive energy from it) and eject the rest. The reason people who eat fast foods are forever hungry might be …because they are STARVING. I think the old sea-ditty that goes “water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink” fits.
    You need to start to think….seriously.
    Food, made of shit, even if you’ve been trained to drool when you see it (Pavlov’s response) does not mean it is good for you.
    #46 — time to learn to cook.

  17. raddad says:

    Um, we were talking about fructose.

    H2O is a different chemical than H2O2. H20 made from sea water, burning hydrogen with oxygen, or rain, is still water and indistinguishable no matter the source. Hydrogen peroxide H2O2 is a different chemical and, in this case, poisonous.

    Hydrogenated oils are, like H2O2, different chemically and I am not advocating them.

  18. bobbo, int'l pastry chef social critic says:

    raddad==response to meetsy???

    I won’t go back again but I think the video at #31 may have mentioned there are two types of fructose. ONe was an isoglyceride and the other was something else.

    Its like the diets based on eating ice cream because more calories are used to warm the ice up than are provided by the ice cream. Its true until you find out the “calorie” in the heat equation is a calorie but the calorie in the food equation is actually a “kilo-calorie” that by custom and usage has been shortened to calorie. But they ain’t the same thing.

    Are you THAT sure about fructose?

  19. bobbo, int'l pastry chef social critic says:

    And before i go google some more because “we are what we eat” it occurs to me the issue is not “frustose” but rather “High Fructose Corn Syrup” which is again a different subject with several different formulas of the stuff.

  20. raddad says:

    Fructose is fructose C6H12O6. There is no other type.

    HFCS is a combination of 55% fructose and 45% glucose similar to honey. Both fructose and glucose occur naturally. Sucrose, common table sugar, is composed of one molecule of fructose and one molecule of glucose weakly bonded together and is easily split in stomach acid into fructose and glucose.

    There are hundreds of different sugars. Some occur naturally and some do not. Some are sweet and others are bitter.

  21. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    raddad==thanks, I believe you, just “new” to the hard science of it all. I’ll go back and watch that video one more time.

    So==is the issue we are simply consuming too much of it rather than it is “especially” bad? Sounds like it. Hard to get a lot of fructose from a natural diet but hard to avoid it in prepared foods????

    So, is saying “nothing wrong with fructose” actually requiring a special set of circumstances that don’t readily exist by “reality” making fructose indeed “bad.”

    Just like salt? Or tuna packed in oil?? or whatever===over processed empty bleached flour and so on?

    Salt is interesting. I stopped it totally for a while then when I went back to eat a can of cut string beans I couldn’t eat them==now I wash the beans in water to get rid of the excess salt. Never noticed it until I got off them for awhile. Scary to think that could be the same story with HFCS?

  22. raddad says:

    Well, the study that started this whole discussion proposed that weight gain in rats was significantly higher for rats that consumed HFCS despite consuming the same amount of calories.

    I am generally a calories in, calories out person, so this result to me is surprising. I’m sure there will be further studies since the outcome was unexpected to many people.

    In the meantime, people who are trying to control weight might want to avoid foods high in HFCS.

  23. Rich says:

    Sea Lawyer said:

    “I will give you a tip though – the government is not the root of all problems.”

    No, but it’s one of the big, stout branches at the bottom of the tree.

  24. Rick Cain says:

    I quit drinking soft drinks 10 years ago and haven’t looked back.

    My only indulgence is the occasional Mexican jarritos soda with real sugar.

  25. Animby says:

    Oooh. I used to love Jarritos’s tamarind flavor soda. They also made some flavored waters with no sugar at all. So refreshing on a hot day en la playa.

  26. meetsy says:

    @rad I understand. You’re in denial. HFCS is NOT just like fructose. If you really believe that, take the other color pill.
    Time to start really reading, friend.

  27. meetsy says:

    You know, if you look at photos of people…pre HFCS..and pre “pre-made/packaged foods” you see something weird: fat isn’t that fat. I mean, come on, William Howard Taft weighed “over 300lbs” and was near a circus freak. They had to put a new tub in the White House after his fat arse became stuck in the small one.
    But, seriously, 300lbs? I know 21 year old women who think they are TRIM at 300lbs — after losing 150lbs!
    Baby Ruth (no the candy bar, the circus side show fat lady) born Ruth Smith in Kempton, Indiana, on February 8, 1904, was a ‘whale of a woman”. She was from a long line of circus fatties: Her mother, who stood nearly six feet tall, weighed about 600 pounds when Ruth was born, and later reached a peak weight of 720. She, too, was a circus fat lady, billed as the Human Blimp during the First World War. Ruth, at her girth was
    Now these were women that people would PAY TO SEE. I mean, it was something like having a conjoined twin next to you, or three legs, or any of the other “freakisms” that were proudly displayed on the midway. Baby Ruth (aka Dimples) was, for most of her career around 500lbs. She decided to become “really fat” and her goal was to get up to 750lbs. AT that point she was making big bucks..and was the fattest woman around. People marveled at her size.
    Most of the circus sideshow fatties were in the 450 to 500lb range. Imagine that!
    Okay, so lets just go for ‘normal fat’ Lou Costello (Abbott and Costello) was about 260lbs. Trim by today’s standards Oliver Hardy, a “FAT guy” in his day — who was 6 ft 1 in tall and weighed about 280 lb. These guys would be considered NORMAL by today’s standards.
    Any day of the week you can turn on television and either see half-ton-teens, or Biggest Loser, Dance Your Ass Off, More to Love, etc. The thing is, you can go to Costo on a Saturday and see a few of these half ton people. So consider…there are lots of people in the 600lb weight range. There are people in the 700lb weight range. Rosalie Bradford holds the Guinness World Record for the heaviest woman at 1,199lbs This would have been an unheard of weight 30 years ago!
    It is well documented: the average weight for men aged 20-74 years rose dramatically from 166.3 pounds in 1960 to 191 pounds in 2002, while the average weight for women the same age increased from 140.2 pounds in 1960 to 164.3 pounds in 2002.
    I don’t remember my parents, neighbors, teachers, etc, out walking around, or doing heavy lifting (we didn’t live on a farm). They drove everywhere– in fact, we went on Sunday drives as our big form of fun and there were gas price wars. We had washing machines, and “labor saving devices”. Life wasn’t that different.
    So, what has changed? In the 80’s we were introduced to HFCS. Remember in 1985 “NEW COKE’ was introduced…big fan fare. No one liked it, so they said they’d change it back. Yep, that is when they switched from Sugar to HFCS. So, funny, our weight has risen, our “upper end” fatties are bigger, and what used to be a FAT MAN is now just “pretty fit looking”….since the introduction of HFCS in every damn thing we touch.
    Type two diabetes has skyrocketed (even in kids),obesity has skyrocketed.
    Look at the pretty map the CDC has made for you “obesity since 1985” by state:
    Gee, I wonder…..

  28. Sea Lawyer says:


    Ha, you are confusing me with a person who was repsonding to me.

  29. PatRD says:

    It’s very disturbing to see foods demonized. When it comes to high fructose corn syrup, it IS identical to sugar (and honey) both in caloric value AND the way it is metabolized. The body recognizes both the same. As a registered dietitian and consultant to the food industry (like the Corn Refiners Assoc.) and a college professor I use science to carry the message. While studies on rats are helpful, until they are replicated on humans I’m hesitant.

    There are no clinical studies on humans that use reasonable amount of fructose. In 2008, the American Medical Association concluded “high fructose corn syrup does not appear to contribute to obesity more than other caloric sweeteners.” And, according to the American Dietetic Association, “high fructose corn syrup…is nutritionally equivalent to sucrose. Once absorbed into the blood stream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable.”

    At the end of the day a calorie is a calorie is a calorie; and what we put in we must put out. The key is to balance food intake with energy output as the sensible solution.

  30. ben says:

    #30, @raddad, @PatRD:

    What do you think of the video in #31? Could all the evils of HCFS he talks about, be equally applied to the naturally occurring fructose in fruits?
    (based on hcfs == honey or glucose+fructose+bond)

    What are your thoughts on Stevia or sugar alcohols? I don’t know of any studies on these, but just because it’s natural like fructose, are there other problems with it?


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