High-Fructose Corn Syrup: the Sequel

Here they go again: the Corn Refiners Association has aired at least two more TV commercials touting the ‘merits’ of high-fructose corn syrup; actually, they’re repeating the same message as before. For those who haven’t had a chance to view the commercials, her are a few brief synopses of the ads:

  1. At a children’s birthday party, one homemaker doubts that a second homemaker cares about her children as the second homemaker pours a cup of bright red fruit drink. Upon the first homemaker mentioning that the red beverage is sweetened with HFCS, she draws a blank when asked about its demerits; the second homemaker rattles off that it’s made from corn and okay in moderation.
  2. Two teen boys/young men are at a breakfast table; one mentions to the other that the breakfast cereal on the table has HFCS, but (surprise! surprise! surprise!) draws a blank when asked about its demerits; the other young man echoes the sentiment of the second homemaker in the birthday party spot, that the (clearly artificial) sweetener is acceptable in moderation.

Are you kidding me? I’d expect young men not to be fully educated on basic nutrition (I have three stepsons, one of whom passed away in February; young men tend to eat anything that will fuel them, whereas young women are encouraged to eat more conservatively and more healthfully); the homemakers’ ad, I found disturbing, especially since the second homemaker seemed to scorn the first one for being concerned about what the children at the party consume. The first homemaker in that ad could easily have had diabetic or borderline diabetic children whose diets require that they avoid HFCS; how presumptuous of the second homemaker to assume that none of the children would be affected by the artificially-sweetened drink.

Time magazine questioned the validity of the ads, as do other sources; for more information, please visit http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1841910,00.html The article also mentions that the ad campaign is due to go on for 18 months. As if 28 years of HFCS being ubiquitous in common food and beverages were not scary enough, now they intend to actively promote it for another year and a half, given the known and scientifically-proven dangers of it? Other links to the doubts and dangers of HFCS are:

http://www.gourmet.com/foodpolitics/2008/08/politicsoftheplate_08_01_08

http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Fructose-again-linked-to-fat-build-up-study

http://whattoeatbook.com/tag/hfcs/

http://www.sweetsurprise.com (yes, I am being the devil’s advocate here and including the site that is linked to all those TV ads so that you can see their position on HFCS)

It should be noted that the Food Navigator site only talks about the link between fructose and fat build-up; if natural fructose in excess can do that, what of HFCS, which is always in excess? As for the ads, what’s so wrong with putting raw sugar or honey (two natural, minimally-processed sweeteners) on (preferably whole-grain) breakfast cereal or making lemonade or fruit punch from real fruit and real sugar or honey? And why does the Corn Refiners’ Association think people are so misinformed as to believe the obvious skewed ads, when a more intelligent conversation would present both sides clearly (let the ‘opponent’ talk of the doubts and dangers of HFCS instead of looking clueless in front of the proponent)?

V.

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