From Our 2008 Archives

Sweetener Gets Unlikely Ally

High Fructose Corn Syrup Hasn't Been Shown to Deserve Blame for Obesity, Says American Medical Association

By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

June 18, 2008 — High fructose corn syrup, a sweetener used in many products, including soft drinks, is getting some guarded support from an unlikely source — the American Medical Association (AMA).

At a meeting in Chicago, AMA delegates backed a resolution that argues that there's no scientific proof that high fructose corn syrup deserves the blame for obesity more than sugar or other caloric sweeteners. The resolution also nixes putting warning labels on products containing high fructose corn syrup.

"At this time, there is insufficient evidence to restrict the use of high fructose corn syrup or label products that contain it with a warning," AMA board member William Dolan, MD, says in an AMA news release.

That's not a green light to guzzle foods or drinks containing high fructose corn syrup.

"We do recommend consumers limit the amount of all added caloric sweeteners to no more than 32 grams of sugar daily based on a 2,000 calorie diet in accordance with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans," Dolan says.

The AMA acknowledges that obesity rates have soared in recent decades, in sync with the growing use of high fructose corn syrup.

But the AMA also points out that people also consumed more calories and became less active during that time and that the body processes high fructose corn syrup much like sugar.

The AMA says it isn't thrilled with the level of research on high fructose corn syrup, partly because there isn't a lot of research on the health effects of high fructose corn syrup and also because of industry funding for much of that work.

SOURCES: American Medical Association's Council on Science and Public Health: "The Health Effects of High Fructose Syrup." News release, American Medical Association.

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