Does High Fructose Corn Syrup Cause Obesity And Disease?

Most of the information in this article has been taken from the video Sugar: The Bitter Truth and a couple of other studies I’ve looked at. The video is by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. I love Robert Lustig’s work on sugar and it’s link to bad health.

If you have time to watch his video (1.5 hours) I highly recommend it. But I’ve broken down a few very important points from the video and studies to help save you time and make it easier.

Most importantly we’ll answer the question: Does high fructose corn syrup cause obesity and disease?

What is high fructose corn syrup?

Before we talk about what it can do to health I guess it’s good to know exactly what it is. High fructose corn syrup is derived from corn stalks using acid or amylase to get a sweetener that is an alternative to sugar. It’s cheaper than sugar which is likely one reason the food industry has included it in such large doses. 

In recent years high fructose corn syrup has become a replacement for sugar in many packaged and processed foods. An additive in breads, burger buns, crackers, and as an addition to soft drinks, and fruit juices. It’s in way too many things to mention.

Here’s a chart that shows the decline in sugar and the incease in high fructose corn syrup.



But high fructose corn syrup is a toxin that many researchers believe is at the heart in the growing epidemic of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and more. Yes, that’s right…a toxin!

A poison that has been allowed into our food source at a detrimental cost.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Dangers Of Consumption

Chronic Fructose Exposure Causes Metabolic Syndrome
What is metabolic syndrome?
It’s a cluster of 5 key things that increase your risk of getting over 300 other health conditions.
These 5 factors are:
  • obesity
  • diabetes and pre-diabetes
  • high cholesterol/lipid problems
  • high blood pressure/hypertension
  • pro-inflammatory state

Unfortunately metabolic syndrome is on the rise with about 1/4 of the world’s adult population already having it. Of course there are multiple contributing factors but high fructose corn syrup is definitely one of them. So let’s look at some fructose facts and maybe you will decide to avoid those processed foods the next time you get the urge!

high fructose corn syrup

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Dangers & Facts

  • Fructose is sweeter than sugar so we should use less of it but we actually use more
  • When they advised us to eat a low-fat diet for heart health, they cut out fat from foods but replaced it with fructose to make it more palatable. Funny thing is heart health isn’t getting any better? Wonder why…
  • Fructose has a different stucture to sugar and cannot be metabolised properly in the body, glucose gets used or converted to glycogen. High fructose corn syrup gets converted to fat
  • Beverages such as fruit juices, soft drinks and sports drinks are the worst. They contain high amounts of fructose and people drink them by the gallons.
  • The liver is the only organ that can process fructose and most of the compound turns directly into the bad fat/cholesterol VLDL
  • Given the same amount of calories in both sugar and fructose – 30% more of the fructose ends up as fat. What that means is that a low-fat diet full of fructose is actually a high-fat diet. Sugar turns to fat and particularly fructose sugars.
  • Fructose suppresses our stomachs hunger hormone ghrelin, that’s why people are eating more and more because the brain never gets the full signal.

Of course this leads to a viscious cycle, people want more fructose foods, they eat them, they don’t feel full, they eat more, the foods create 30% more fat in the body, and so we are left with a growing problem of disease.

Does high fructose corn syrup cause obesity and disease?

Yes it is a contributing factor for many people, including children. High fructose corn syrup has been extensively studied and has been associated with:

  • increased obesity
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased insulin resistance
  • increased small dense LDL cholesterol
  • increase non alcoholic fatty liver disease

One of the biggest contributors is the intake of sodas and sweet drinks because you can drink a lot of calories in the form of high fructose corn syrup and not know it!

But isn’t Fructose in Fruit?

veggie-fruit-love-heartWell yes it is…and perhaps that’s why they thought that high fructose corn syrup was safe for consumption.

Fructose in it’s natural state in fruit provides it’s own antidote, fibre, along with other valuable nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and various other compounds.

The key is the fibre. Although an apple has fructose, it also has loads of soluble fibre and this helps the fructose to metabolise properly. Most processed and packaged foods have had all the fibre removed because it gives the products a longer shelf life. Not to mention that the high fructose corn syrup provides no nutritional value to your body.

When fructose is isolated on it’s own and added in copious amounts to our food source, it is actually a toxin that has chronic affects on our health.

Overcoming The Effects Of High Sugar Corn Syrup

Just as we can create bad health through the consumption of high fructose corn syrup, we can also overcome it. Thank goodness :)

The best way is to avoid most packaged and processed foods. Definitely avoid sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices. And focus on eating good quality real food.

There are natural sweeteners you can eat that are far better than high fructose corn syrup. You can read about natural sugar substitutes here.

Tomorrow I’ll cover sucrose vs fructose and share some more info about the 2.


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Jedha-D-circle-smallHi I'm Jedha, resident nutritionist (MNutr.BSSc.). My motto is: “YOUR HEALTH IS YOUR WEALTH” because there is nothing in this world that makes us more wealthy than having good health. I truly believe that good food is the key to a happy, healthy life and I'm on a mission to inspire you to get back inside your kitchen, eat real food, and as a result, improve your health dramatically. Trust me, there is great power in the food we eat! So here you'll find easy and practical info to help you eat well, and feel your best everyday. I look forward to getting to know you :)


  1. says

    We read all our food labels and if it states that HFC is in the ingredients (amongst other stuff) BACK ON THE SHELF if goes! We are amazed at how many shopping carts roll by us with tons of HFC products in them. So sad to see ~

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