By any other name would smell as sweet."
High fructose corn syrup, that ubiquitous refined sweetener found in everything from jams and sodas to breads and tomato sauce, has taken quite a beating in the last couple of years. Documentaries such as King Corn vilified the ingredient. Conscientious consumers started reading labels and asking for less refined sweeteners. Companies such as Gatorade, Hunt's ketchup and Thomas English muffins publicly removed the ingredient from its products. ("Now with no high fructose corn syrup" boast packages in every aisle of the supermarket.) And the industry took note.
First came the "Sweet Surprise," a $20-$30 million campaign by the Corn Refiners Association to boost the reputation of HFCS. (Watch the ads here.) Now, the Corn Refiners Association has decided to petition the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow for a name change. High fructose corn syrup would be known as called corn sugar, if the industry gets its way.
According to SparkPeople dietitian Becky Hand, "theories abound that HFCS has a greater impact on blood glucose levels than regular sugar (sucrose). However, research has shown that there are no significant differences between HFCS and sugar (sucrose) when it comes to the production of insulin, leptin (a hormone that regulates body weight and metabolism), ghrelin (the "hunger" hormone), or the changes in blood glucose levels. In addition, satiety studies done on HFCS and sugar (sucrose) have found no difference in appetite regulation, feelings of fullness, or short-term energy intake." (Read more about HFCS and its effects on the body here.)
Still, SparkPeople members and the general public have qualms about consuming it. In recent polls, we asked:
Do you tend to avoid high fructose corn syrup? 75% said yes (more than 18,000 people).
We also asked: Do you believe that high fructose corn syrup is worse for you than regular sugar? 57% said yes to that question.
Changing the name of a product has boosted its appeal to consumers in the past--prunes became dried plums; rapeseed oil became canola oil.
What do you think about the name change? What do you believe to be the industry's intentions? Is the name change, as Corn Refiners Association president Audrae Erickson says, intended to alleviate confusion about the ingredient? Or is it simply a way to trick consumers wary of HFCS to consumer products that actually do contain it? How do you feel about high fructose corn syrup?
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