How would an HFCS ban affect public health?

Monday, May 3, 2010 14:05
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Researchers will continue to debate whether or not high fructose corn syrup represents a unique threat to our health. But regardless of what the truth turns out to be, consumers have already made up their minds. And as far as manufacturers are concerned, the customer is always right. “Our focus is on consumer
preference, not the science,” a ConAgra representative told the New York Times. (See "The Sweet Talk Gets Harder")

In response to persistent angst over high fructose corn syrup,
manufacturers–who continue to argue that fears about HFCS are
unfounded–are nonetheless starting to remove high fructose corn syrup
from processed foods and replace it with cane sugar. 

So, what effect will removing HFCS from the food supply have on our nation's obesity and diabetes rates? 

If people consume cane-sugar-sweetened foods and beverages at the same rate that they currently consume HFCS-sweetened products, it will have no effect whatsoever.

There's another possibility: Because cane sugar is about 40% more expensive than HFCS, prices on soda and other processed foods will likely go up.  If higher prices on their favorite junk foods cause consumers to cut back, this could have a beneficial effect.

On the other hand, maybe we're better off the way things are now.  Right now, if you want to avoid HFCS, you've pretty much got to eliminate all packed and processed foods from your diet. (Now THERE'S a way to improve public health!!)  Once all that HFCS is replaced with cane sugar, manufacturers hope that consumers will feel safe resuming their consumption of junk foods. 

And that, my friends, is why they'd rather switch than fight.

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