TISINGER: Corn syrup ads misleading

Photo Courtesy: Sxc.hu/rubenv

Photo Courtesy: Sxc.hu/rubenv

Sarah Tisinger

We all live in Iowa, at least during most of the year. It is safe to say we have all seen corn — whether your family grows it, you eat it or you passed a field on your way to classes. It is also safe to say we eat its products on a daily basis, unless you have a fructose intolerance or malabsorption, which is just one ugly hidden problem of high fructose corn syrup.

The point of this column is not to urge readers to hate high fructose corn syrup and ban it completely from their lives. In fact, people have gone somewhat crazy in the past few years and have cut out almost everything from their diets.

HFCS is no longer acceptable at a dinner table, organic meat and milk are all the rage and anything with carbohydrates is questioned.

The public is also putting farming techniques into question, and while it is great that consumers are trying to become healthy and green, it perhaps is not in the best way.

Lately, commercials supporting www.HFCSfacts.com have sprung up on the television that promise, “You’re in for a sweet surprise.”

The Web site addresses many of the questions people have wondered about. The site insists that HFCS is not any worse to your health than normal sugar — that it has not had an effect on the obesity of the public, but instead has many positive uses.

HFCS is made from corn and is used as a product sweetener as well as a preservative of taste and freshness. Fructose is naturally occurring in many fruits, honey, juices and dairy products. However, the unnatural occurrences are creating a problem. HFCS is also used to keep the freshness on cereal bars as well as in what we

Midwesterners call pop. The site claims that “HFCS provides greater stability in acidic carbonated sodas than sucrose; flavors remain consistent and stable over the entire shelf-life of the product.”

Unfortunately, although it may have its many uses and is not necessarily causing obesity, there are still bad effects that the Web site fails to mention. Obesity may not be completely caused by HFCS, but when consumed in large volumes, it will inevitably cause weight problems — as with all foods. It is, however, hard to stay away from. Because fructose is naturally occurring, anything with tomatoes, apples, honey and milk will be chock full of it.

“Everything in moderation” is a phrase that not only the commercial used, but many people think when they eat. Even though you may eat foods in moderation, if everything you eat contains HFCS, then you aren’t exactly receiving it in moderation.

As pop and carbonated beverages are one of restaurants’ biggest moneymakers and one of the most consumed drinks in America, it is important to know how much corn syrup and fructose you are actually consuming. Intestinal discomfort may follow after a person consumes a few cans, which is usually thought to be the carbonation.

However, it may be the high amounts of HFCS.

An article in the Quad-City Times on Jan. 16, “Case against high-fructose corn syrup,” argues against the commercial and its misleading information. “As is the case with most health issues, sound bite commercials mask the complexities of the matter and are often misleading,” said Bryant Stamford, a professor and chairman of the Department of Exercise Science at Hanover College. “Corn is cheap and a sweetener can be made by milling the corn to produce corn starch, which is then processed down to a syrup that is almost entirely glucose.”

He said that because it’s cheaper it has shown up in most every day foods. “Soft drinks, candies, crackers, cereals, salad dressings, ketchup, juices, bread and other baked goods, etc. This was not seen as a problem because high-fructose corn syrup was merely serving as a cheaper alternative for sugar.”

The article continues to talk about the way natural sugars trigger responses in the body, telling it that you are satisfied and can stop consuming. HFCS does not have the same reaction, which is why children especially do not know when to stop eating, and obesity can occur.

Fructose intolerance and malabsorption is another problem that often goes greatly understudied. Google barely pops up anything worthy when the phrase is typed into the search engine. However, according to www.foodintol.com, a site designed for those with food allergies, studies have shown that about one-third of the general population suffers from fructose malabsorption, though only about half of those show many symptoms of discomfort. Millions of people have suffered from stomach problems due to products with fructose and HFCS and often do not recognize the source.

HFCS might be OK for some consumers, and yes, moderation is working — but for others, the ugly truth to some of your dietary issues might be that the foods you love so much just might be the reason. It is unfortunate that there is not much released information on the Internet, but it’s best to consult with a doctor and ask them the real health problems with high fructose corn syrup and dairy in your diet. It just might make you take the commercials with a grain of salt.

– Sarah Tisinger is a sophomore in journalism and mass communication from Bettendorf.