Is it necessary to cut high fructose corn syrup out of your diet?

See What Scott & White Pediatric Dietitian, Amy Cantrell, Has To Say About The Popular Sweetener

It’s no surprise that there’s an obesity epidemic in our country. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2008.

With so many children and adults battling the bulge, many people want to blame someone or something. But is there one food that is more of a culprit than the others?

Some think that the popular sweetener, high fructose corn syrup is to blame. And with so many conflicting reports out there about the dangers of consuming too much of the sweet additive, it’s hard to know whether it’s safe or not.

“There’s a lot of popular press out there that says that high fructose corn syrup is the reason for obesity,” said Scott & White pediatric dietitian, Amy Cantrell, RD, LD. “But it’s been disproven and disproven that that’s not true.”

In fact, HFCS is not even the most widely used sweetener across the world. Ninety percent of the nutritive sweetener used worldwide is sucrose (table sugar).1


And if HFCS is causing the obesity epidemic in America, why are other countries that use just as much of the sweetener not as heavy?

“Japan uses high fructose corn syrup. Europe uses high fructose corn syrup, and we have the obesity issue,” Ms. Cantrell said.

The reason, the dietitian says, is that Americans eat too much of everything else and activity in general is very low.

Refined sugar consumption rose from 80 lbs per person per year in 1970 to a little more than 100 pounds per person per year in 2005.

“Sucrose is providing 45 pounds a year, high fructose corn syrup is providing about the same amount, and there’s some glucose or corn syrup that’s providing maybe five pounds,” Ms. Cantrell said. “It’s an equal consumption. It’s not like we’re having more high fructose corn syrup.”

Even though HFCS is not solely to blame for America’s expanding waistline, Ms. Cantrell said that anything eaten in excess is going to be harmful to the body.

“There’s nothing wrong with fructose. Fructose is in fruits and some vegetables,” she said. “But the problem comes with kids drinking a lot of fruite juice (or consuming other foods that contain a lot of sugar). It can cause their blood fats (triglycerides) to be high, as well as contribute to excess weight.”

High triglyceride levels can lead to high cholesterol, heart disease or a number of other illnesses.

So, is it necessary to remove HFCS from your family’s diet?

“Let’s face it, there’s no recommended daily allowance for high fructose corn syrup,” Ms. Cantrell said. “Some of the products that HFCS is in are not good choices to have, for example some popular sports drinks or regular sodas.”

Extra sugar leads to extra calories, the dietitian said. So, giving your family a healthy, low-sugar diet is a good way to keep their weight and risk for health problems down.

A healthy diet should include:

  • Plenty of non-starchy vegetables daily
  • Moderate serving of fruit
  • Modest amount of starch-bases foods
  • Moderate amount of protein or meat
  • Two to three cups of lower percentage fat milk a day

For more information about healthy diet, go to ChooseMyPlate.gov.

What do you think about high fructose corn syrup? Do you think the sweetener is okay as a part of your family’s diet? Are you a family who has cut HFCS completely out of your diet? Tell us about it.


1               White, John S. “Straight talk about high-fructose corn syrup: what it is and what it ain’t.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 88. (2008)(suppl): 1716S-21S.

* This article has been edited for accuracy.

About the author

More articles

Jessa McClure holds a degree in journalism and mass communication from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX, where she is currently an adviser for student publications. She has been a writer in the health care field since 2009.

8 thoughts on “Is it necessary to cut high fructose corn syrup out of your diet?”

  1. High fructose corn syrup was under tight quota in europe which was relaxed in 2011. So saying that europe uses hfcs is exagerated. in the us, you find high fructose conr syrup in pretty much everything you buy. It is a lie to write that americans are obese because of everthing else they eat. As if hfcs was not ond of the reasons. who writes this article anyway? The hfcs industry? i know i don’t feed my kids hfcs and they are not obese. I stick with non processed food, much better and much healthier.

  2. Pingback: Could You Have Sleep Apnea? | Scott & White Healthcare … - ThinkMediscore.com

  3. To shorten the article, the details of how the metabolism of fructose to the quicker production of triglycerides was not discussed.  This is why in general HFCS, as well as calories in general should be cautiously and judiciously consumed.

  4. GMO is based on genetically altered organisms. Europe and Japan do indeed use high fructose corn syrup.  Corn starch is chemically altered. It is not genetically grown differently or modified in any other way except for processing.

  5. There is no doubt that some people prefer the cane sugar alternatives for some current HFCS sweetened ones.  Just recently the Dr. Pepper plant in Dublin, TX closed it’s doors and people can still get the sucrose sweetened coca cola from Mexico at different places.  I did not read the study that you mentioned so I’m not familiar with the amount consumed.  It may be a matter of taste preference, but yes, if consumed less over the long haul, it would indeed have better health benefits.

  6. There is a new study out in  Metabolism entitled “Effects of high fructose corn syrup and sucrose on the pharmacokinetics of fructose and acuate metaloblic and hemodynamic responses in healthy subjects.  The results between the two were “not signifiantly significant”.  However, slighty more HFCS was consumed,  to result in the same formulated taste and fructose, etc, levels were slightly elevated.  Although the study did not bring it up, I wondered if you are consuming sightly less sugar than HFCS  in a similar product, with a similar taste, over the long haul, wouldn’t this be slightly better?

  7. While we should not solely blame the obesity epidemic on HFCS, I think it is ill advised to ignore the growing data about its potential adverse impact on renal, cardiovascular disease and gout.  I agree that the jury is still out on this controversial topic.  However a few years ago I had the opportunity to hear a Grand Rounds lecture from the author of this article http://ajprenal.physiology.org/content/293/4/F1256.full reviewing not only this data but preliminary data from several rat and human studies he was participting in that demonstrated much higher rates of hypertension, gout and cardiovascular disease with increased HFCS exposure.  It has certainly caused me to limit HFCS intake in myself and my own children.

  8. Japan and Europe have banned GMO foods. The HFCS in the US is derived from GMO corn so it will have different effects on the body. It has already been proven the BT bacterium and its toxin are affecting humans who consume it. So that statement that “they use HFCS, and aren’t obese” isn’t based on an apples to apples comparison.

Leave a Reply

Is it necessary to cut high fructose corn syrup out of your diet?