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High Fructose Corn Syrup & Obesity


A friend told me that I shouldn't ever drink regular soda because the sweetener in it causes obesity. Is this true?


Your friend is referring to the theory that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the sweetener used in most sweetened beverages, is linked to the rise in obesity seen in our society over the past 50 years.  It is speculated that fructose actually alters the hormonal response of the body, resulting in increased body fat storage and appetite as compared to other sugars of the same caloric content.  However, the jury is still out on this topic as the research is inconsistent and limited.  As with most theories, additional research will eventually reveal the mechanisms behind the associations between HFCS and weight gain.

Whether or not fructose alters metabolism in favor of weight gain, it clearly provides the added calories necessary for weight gain.  It is estimated that approximately half of the added sugars in our diet come from HFCS!  Therefore, if weight control is a concern of yours, it is wise to choose beverages that are unsweetened such as tea or water.  If carbonation is something that you desire (I happen to fall into this category!), then try carbonated water with a slice of lemon, lime or orange.  It's refreshing and provides that much-loved fizz without added sugar or chemicals.

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Our expert, Dr. Sharon E. Griffin, holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in the areas of exercise science/physiology.  She also holds a second M.S. degree in Nutrition and is a licensed nutritionist and an ACSM certified health and fitness instructor.
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