Monday, December 24, 2012

"Correlation does not imply causation"--so let's look at per capita consumption of HFCS

The results from a study conducted by Michael I. Goran, Stanley J. Ulijaszek and Emily E. Ventura and published in Global Public Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice has received considerable press.  The article, entitled "High fructose corn syrup and diabetes prevalence: A global perspective," is being widely cited as proof that there is a link between High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and diabetes.  For example, a recent WebMD Health News article included the following statement: "Countries that mix high-fructose corn syrup into processed foods and soft drinks have higher rates of diabetes than countries that don’t use the sweetener."  

As one might imagine, the Corn Refiners Association reacted vociferously.

Ok, so we all know that "correlation does not imply causation".....

So, let's talk about the findings in this study that can't be disputed....  

The study examined data from 42 countries. The United States came out on top, with the highest per capita consumption of HFCS.  That can't be disputed.  So what?  Just how much HFCS is consumed on average by a citizen of the United States?

Can't be that much, right?

Well, let's compare the per capita HFCS consumption with the per capita rice consumption.  Just for a point of comparison. According to the USA Rice Federation, the "U.S. per capita rice consumption is 24 pounds a year."

We can't possibly eat more HFCS than rice, right?

The U.S. per capita consumption of HFCS is 55 pounds per year.

How is that possible?  Per capita, our consumption of HFCS thus is more than double our consumption of rice....

Ok, so that's seriously scary.

Seems like a good blog post with which to round out the year.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sorry guys, but "Corn sugar" is already claimed....

In their never ending campaign to deceive the American public, the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) is seeking FDA approval to relabel "High Fructose Corn Syrup" as "Corn Sugar."  Here's the entry for "Corn Sugar" from Wikipedia; clearly CRA has been hard at work!

So, what's the problem?  Well, given that the CRA even states on their site (appropriately named "") that "Corn Sugar" is an "FDA-approved alternate label for dextrose, a corn-based sweetener that contains no fructose," one might think they would go back to the drawing board in their never-ending quest for a new name for HFCS?:

Oh, that's really just a pesky little detail.  Something so insignificant wouldn't stop King Corn in their mission!  And moreover, according to the CRA's website, "Relabeling high fructose corn syrup as “corn sugar” clears up confusion and enables consumers to easily identify added sugars in the diet. Docket FDA-2010-P-0491"  Wow.  So, relabeling would clear up confusion?  Um, that's a very interesting use of the word "confusion"! Or maybe it's the "clears up" that's a little murky....  And again, CRA does actually point out on that same page: "'Corn sugar' is currently a little-used label name for dextrose, which we are seeking to change."

Rather than adopting a label already in use by another altogether different product, wouldn't it be easier either to (a) stick with the existing label, or (b) come up with a new label that doesn't require changing another product's label? 

Wait a minute....  I've got it!  
  • It's a label not currently being used by anyone.
  • No mention of "fructose."
  • It's got the word "sugar" rather than "syrup."
  • It's simple and "natural," just like HFCS....
  • It's an absolutely perfect new label for High Fructose Corn Syrup!

Audrae Erickson, whatever would you do if there weren't people like me to do your job for you?

For more information on this topic, please see: Marion Nestle's article: "Sorry, Corn Refiners: The Name 'Corn Sugar' Is Already Taken"