Child Nutrition - High Fructose Corn Syrup

High fructose corn syrup - what is it?  Registered Dietitian, Dr. Connie Schneider, explains the not so sweet truth. 

High fructose corn syrup is a common sweetener and preservative found in beverages and processed foods.  It's not the same as the natural, healthy fructose in honey and fruit.  

High-fructose corn syrup is a highly refined, product.  HFCS is made by treating cornstarch with enzymes to turn glucose, a sugar, into another form of sugar called fructose.  The end product is a combination of glucose and fructose, known as high-fructose corn syrup, abbreviated as HFCS.

-extends shelf life of food
-cheaper than sugar

Manufacturers of food products began substituting HFCS for white sugar in the 1970's.  Because it extends the shelf life of processed foods and is cheaper than sugar, HFCS has become a popular ingredient in many food items.  It can be found in sodas, flavored beverages, juices, breads, cereals, crackers, cookies, salad dressings, sauces, and condiments, yogurt, canned foods and frozen dinners.

Even foods that don’t taste sweet such as canned soups, salad dressings, and processed meals often contain HFCS.  Research on the effects of HFCS is divided.  Past studies have linked HFCS with obesity.  However, recent studies, some funded by beverages and corn industries, suggest that HFCS has the same calories and sweetness as table sugar and honey and does not appear to contribute to obesity more than other sweeteners.

HFCS research is conflicting.  But parents, the bottom line - HFCS is still a form sugar!  Sweetened beverages and processed foods should be limited.  They have high calories and low nutritional value.  Regular consumption of these products may contribute to obesity.

The key is to add value to your child’s diet.  You can reduce HFCS and all added sugars by limiting fast foods, sweetened beverages, and processed foods.

Tips to limit HFCS and other sweeteners
-limit fast food and processed foods
-choose fruit canned in its own juices instead of heavy syrup
-avoid foods that contain added sugar
-don’t allow sweetened beverage to replace milk or water
-read food labels

More info for parents
Small Step Kids – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Mayo Clinic - HFCS

President and Fellows of Harvard College, (2006).Added Sweeteners. Harvard Health Letter. 31, No.12.

Tweed, Vera (September 2008). Not So Sweet: Should High-Fructose Corn Syrup Be Banned From Your Diet?. Better Nutrition, 11.

American Beverage Association – HFCS News Release

Corn Refiners Association – HFCS News Release





Copyright 2009 Valley Public Television. All Rights Reserved.