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The Effects of High Fructose Corn Syrup on Weight Loss

This is a paper I wrote about High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) for one of my high school classes:

The Effects of High Fructose Corn Syrup on Weight Loss

Introduction

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener that is derived from corn starch. It is a fairly recent phenomenon as it was introduced in the 1970s. Every day we consume foods that have HFCS and think nothing of it. Many believe that in small amounts, there may be no harm to the body. In actuality, this may be true, but consumers are unaware of what it is in general and do not think twice about it. It was used in many foods during the 1990s, but recent research has discouraged people from buying products that contain it. Currently, HFCS has become one of the main concerns linked to obesity in America. There was an increased amount of hype over the issue before a decent amount of research was done to prove whether or not it was causing the obesity rates to increase. The media was heavily involved, encouraging its viewers to become anxious about the topic. This started a lot of controversy even though there was no solid proof yet. The ingredient can be found in foods that are eaten every day. This includes soda, candy, and bread. Almost anything people eat on a daily basis contains HFCS. It is important to recognize this and limit the consumption of it. Most people do not pay much attention to labels anymore. We tend to go about with our everyday lives, unaware of what we are putting into our bodies. The more advanced science becomes, the more ingredients become altered in the lab in order to taste better and cut down on costs. The ever changing world we live in today is always in demand for something new. HFCS has become the one ingredient that has decreased the costs of food production, but has also caused the people who consume it to suffer. It may seem fine now, but over time, the body is not able to handle the amount of chemicals we are putting in it. High Fructose Corn Syrup is a highly controversial ingredient that has supposedly contributed to weight gain, although recent studies have contradicted that.

Body

How does HFCS affect the body?
High Fructose Corn Syrup is a sweetener that has become common in many household food products. It is similar to table sugar and honey. The three primary reasons that HFCS is used over regular sugar are cost, taste, and composition. The cost of HFCS is significantly less than that of table sugar. It also helps with the taste of foods. It is added in foods like bread, sauces and yogurt to enhance flavor. The composition of it is also a benefit because it has an edible texture. Although they are similar, the body is not able to tell the difference between the two when they are digested which results in the body processing them the same way. HFCS is not a natural substance like table sugar is. It is made in a lab, which automatically is not healthy for the body. In general, any kind of sugar in the body, when consumed in large amounts, can result in weight gain. Many people do not stop to read the labels on the food and drinks they buy. Coke, for instance, has about three times as much sugar in one twenty ounce drink that a person is supposed to consume in one day. The low cost of HFCS has caused the soda industry to be able to sell them at a lower price and a larger bottle. There is also evidence that, “HFCS contains contaminants including mercury that are not regulated or measured by the FDA” (Drhyman.com). Researchers have been able to obtain small amounts of HFCS so they could test the amounts of chemicals it contains. Many believe that any food ingredient that contains any kind of chemicals should not be considered natural.

Connection with weight loss
HFCS is said to be linked to weight gain. According to Nutrition Journal, “High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contributes significantly to total fructose consumption and, consequently, has inherited a reputation as a casual factor of obesity as well” (Carden and Carr, 2013). Through the years, researchers have gone back and forth between whether or not HFCS is truly a contributing factor to obesity. Over the last few decades, the amount of added sugars in processed foods has increased significantly. Although there are other factors that contribute to weight gain, researchers have focused on HFCS specifically because of the increase in consumption. A recent study was done to show how HFCS affected the diets of different participants. Over a twelve-week period, a double-blinded trial was conducted in Orlando, Florida with overweight and obese participants between the ages of twenty-five and sixty. Neither the staff nor the participants were aware of whether or not they were consuming HFCS in their diet as a part of the trial. However; they were aware of the percentage of added sugars that was consumed, which was about ten to twenty percent of daily intake. The participants were not allowed to be involved in a weight loss program during the study. The results of the study were that, “typical population intake levels of added sugars prescribed at the level to deliver the 25th and 50th percentile population levels of fructose consumption does not prevent weight loss and associated improvements in body composition when prescribed in the context of a well-designed and supervised weight loss program” (Kawiecki, Lowndes, Melanson, Nguyen, Pardo, Rippe, and Yu, 2012). This concludes that the consumption of HFCS in a daily diet, does not have an impact on a person’s weight loss. These results, however; were conducted in a controlled lab environment. If the research were done outside of the lab, the results may be different. The research also concludes that HFCS is not the only contributing factor in weight loss or weight gain. It is more important to look at the diet as a whole, rather than focusing in on one aspect of it.

Further Research
Further research is needed in this topic of discussion for more conclusive results. Many of the studies are done in a controlled environment that is not always the same as what a participant is used to. According to Lowndes, HFCS is not often, “consumed alone in significant amounts”, it is an ingredient in food (Lowndes et al, 2012). It is hard to determine the exact cause of weight gain just by looking at the consumption of one ingredient. Lowndes states that, “Further studies employing larger numbers of subjects from more diverse populations groups”, will increase the reliability and accuracy of the study (Lowndes et al, 2012). Researchers should consider conducting studies that are longer periods of time. Studies that are longer tend to be more accurate than those that only last a few weeks. They should also consider looking at other ingredients such as carbs. Bread and grains contain these carbs and many people eat these every day. The carbohydrates that people consume can also affect weight loss. According to the Nutrition Journal, “The availability of carbohydrates in the US food supply has increased more than any other macronutrient since 1970” (Carden and Carr, 2012). This shows that HFCS is not the only ingredient that is being used more in the food industry. Carbs are a good source of energy and often contribute to weight gain. When a person has a diet that eliminates the consumption of carbs, they tend to lose weight. This, in turn, shows that carbs could be the problem and not the high fructose corn syrup. In the future, a study should be conducted comparing the consumption of high fructose corn syrup to the amount of carbs a person eats. Then they can compare the amount of weight that is gained and determine which ingredient really does have an impact on the body’s weight.

Conclusion

High Fructose Corn Syrup is a highly controversial ingredient that has supposedly contributed to weight gain, although recent studies have contradicted that. Overall, HFCS is simply another sugar that we are consuming. Although it may lead to weight gain, there are also many other factors that could be causing this. People tend to focus on one aspect and believe that is the underlying issue when, in fact, it is not. The research that was conducted shows that HFCS itself does not show any significant impact on weight loss. It is not consumed in large enough amounts to do this. Other factors that are causing obesity are grains and carbohydrates. Ultimately, solid research should be done to compare this. The ages of the participants should also be broader. The research that was conducted previously had a small age range. This gives the research less accuracy than one that would have a bigger age gap. A larger age gap could also show the impact of high fructose corn syrup and grains on people of different age groups and could lead to further prevention of childhood obesity. There is a lot of progress to be made in this field of research, but every day there is a new discovery, and that is what science is about.

References

5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You – Dr. Mark Hyman. (2011, May 13). Retrieved November 20, 2015, from http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/05/13/5-reasons-high-fructose-corn-syrup-will-kill-you/

Carden, T., & Carr, T. (2013). Food availability of glucose and fat, but not fructose, increased in the US between 1970 and 2009: Analysis of the USDA food availability data system. Retrieved October 6, 2015. Vol 12 p 130.

High Fructose corn syrup. (2015, November 16). Retrieved November 25, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_fructose_corn_syrup

Kawiecki, D., Lowndes, J., Melanson, K., Nguyen, V., Pardo, S., Rippe, J., & Yu, Z. (2012). The effects of four hypocaloric diets containing different levels of sucrose or high fructose corn syrup on weight loss and related parameters. Vol 11, p 55.

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