Thanks to the indefatigable efforts of certain H&R commenters, reason.com readers are exquisitely aware of the menace of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). (I am confident that any rumors to the effect that these anti-HFCS H&R commenters are in the pay of Big Glucose will prove to be baseless.) Now, a new study by researchers from Rutgers University being released today at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society finds that HFCS in carbonated beverages produces deleterious compounds that may contribute to diabetes. To wit:
Researchers have found new evidence that soft drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may contribute to the development of diabetes, particularly in children. In a laboratory study of commonly consumed carbonated beverages, the scientists found that drinks containing the syrup had high levels of reactive compounds that have been shown by others to have the potential to trigger cell and tissue damage that could cause the disease, which is at epidemic levels.
HFCS is a sweetener found in many foods and beverages, including non-diet soda pop, baked goods, and condiments. It has become the sweetener of choice for many food manufacturers because it is considered more economical, sweeter and easier to blend into beverages than table sugar. Some researchers have suggested that high-fructose corn syrup may contribute to an increased risk of diabetes as well as obesity, a claim which the food industry disputes. Until now, little laboratory evidence has been available on the topic.
In the current study, Chi-Tang Ho and colleagues conducted chemical tests among 11 different carbonated soft drinks containing HFCS. They found 'astonishingly high' levels of reactive carbonyls in those beverages. These undesirable and highly-reactive compounds associated with "unbound" fructose and glucose molecules are believed to cause tissue damage, the researchers said. By contrast, reactive carbonyls are not present in table sugar, whose fructose and glucose components are "bound" and chemically stable, they noted.
Some of my colleagues point to evidence that HFCS may not be all that dangerous, but as ideological environmentalists always ask, is it possible to be too careful? I say, end the embargo against imported sugar now! Make bourbon, not HFCS!