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Fat Comment Offends Corn Syrup Defenders

Deveron Timberlake unfortunately mischaracterizes high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in her Side Dish column ("Banning a Fattener," Food & Drink, Jan. 17) by suggesting that it is a unique contributor to obesity.

Dr. Walter Willett, Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Department chairman, told The New York Times, "There's no substantial evidence to support the idea that high-fructose corn syrup is somehow responsible for obesity."

The November/December 2005 issue of Nutrition Today includes a report from the Center for Food, Nutrition, and Agriculture Policy and its Ceres Workshop, which was compiled by scientists who reviewed a number of critical commentaries about HFCS. Their analysis found that HFCS is not a unique contributor to obesity.

Many parts of the world, including Australia, Mexico and Europe, have rising rates of obesity and diabetes despite having little or no HFCS in their foods and beverages. According to the World Health Organization, throughout the world there are more than 1 billion overweight adults, at least 300 million of them obese.

In fact, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show that per-capita consumption of HFCS has been declining in recent years, yet the incidence of obesity and diabetes in the United States remains on the rise.

HFCS can be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Since 1983, the FDA has listed HFCS as "generally recognized as safe" (known as GRAS status) for use in food. According to the American Dietetic Association, "Consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive and nonnutritive sweeteners when consumed in a diet that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations ... as well as individual health goals."

Audrae Erickson, president
Corn Refiners Association
Washington, D.C.

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