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Obesity and High Fructose Corn Syrup

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High Fructose Corn Syrup and Obesity
DeVry University
February 20, 2013

In the age of high fructose corn syrup and processed foods, obesity is rampant in the United States of America. More than one-third of adults and seventeen percent of children suffer from obesity. Since the 1960’s the rate of obesity has more than doubled. Many think that this is directly related to America’s growing consumption of high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup has made people obese and unhealthy, but we can change this by better educating children on proper nutrition and by changing our eating habits. High fructose corn syrup was first created in Japan in the late 1960’s. By the 1970’s the process had been perfected and was introduced to the public market. High fructose corn syrup is fifty-five percent fructose and forty-five percent glucose, and tastes exactly like sucrose (sugar). (Pollan p.89) Like everything else that we eat, in moderation fructose and glucose (high fructose corn syrup) may not be considered that bad for you. However, with the amount of processed foods and beverages that Americans consume it has become nearly impossible to avoid the overeating of high fructose corn syrup. So how exactly does high fructose corn syrup affect the body? We know that high fructose corn syrup is made up of fifty-five percent fructose and forty-five percent glucose. Glucose is a form of energy that is used by just about every part of the body. Glucose gives the body the energy that it needs to perform its daily tasks and to maintain normal bodily functions. Fructose on the other hand can only be broken down by the liver cells. When fructose is broken down, it becomes one of three things; one triglyceride (fat), two uric acid, and three free radicals. All three of the byproducts of fructose are rather unhealthy for the body, and can lead to major health issues. Triglycerides can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries, which can in turn lead to a heart attack or other heart complications. Free radicals can damage cells, enzymes, and genes. Uric acid can lead to the damage of artery walls, which can also lead to heart complications. High levels of fructose can also lead to insulin resistance, which is the precursor to diabetes. (Skerrett p.1) High fructose corn syrup can lead to obesity in many different ways. As discussed earlier the fructose in high fructose corn syrup partly breaks down into triglycerides also known as fat. So, the more high fructose corn syrup that is consumed, the more fat the body makes. Another way that high fructose corn syrup leads to obesity is that when foods containing high fructose corn syrup are eaten, they do not make the consumer feel full. So, the people need to consume more calories to feel full. When these extra calories are not burned off, they are stored as fat. When extra calories are consumed and stored as fat on a daily basis, obesity seems inevitable and unavoidable. The fact that high fructose corn syrup is everywhere and in nearly processed food and beverage also makes a huge contribution to the growing obesity epidemic. “High fructose corn syrup has replaced more expensively priced sugar in a variety of uses including; the beverage industry (41%), processed food manufacturers (22%), cereal and bakery producers (14%), multiple-use food manufacturers (12%), the dairy industry (9%), and the confectionery industry (1%). (Morse, 2012) The fact that using high fructose corn syrup is so much cheaper than using sugar has helped in to invade every major food processing industry. Since it is used in all of these industries, it makes it much harder for consumers to avoid ingesting large amounts of high fructose corn syrup, which means that it is now even harder to avoid obesity. All of these claims that high fructose corn syrup causes obesity can be backed up by credible research. Researchers at Princeton University set up a trial using four different groups of male rats. One group, the control group, was given standard food and plain water. The second group was given standard food and water that contained an eight percent high fructose corn syrup solution for twelve hours. The third group was given standard food and water that contained a ten percent sucrose solution for twelve hours. The fourth group was given standard food and water that contained eight percent high fructose corn syrup for twenty four hours. This research showed that the rats which were given the high fructose corn syrup gained much more weight than the rats that were given the sucrose even though they consumed fewer calories. Also, the rats that were given the high fructose corn syrup had an increase in body fat especially in the abdominal area. (Gaby 2011) This research was essential in proving that high fructose corn syrup does indeed lead to obesity and then health issues. There are numerous health risks that are associated with obesity. The excess fats and triglycerides associated with obesity increase the chances of acquiring high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer, and diabetes. Obesity has also been linked to depression, gout, kidney disease, blood clots, gastric reflux, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and a shorter life span. (Gerson 2010) If this list is not scary enough, nearly all high fructose corn syrup because of the way that it is manufactured contains mercury. So with every sip of pop that we drink we are consuming an unknown amount of toxic mercury. Although Americans may not think that one small pop a day can hurt you, it actually adds up to an extra fifteen pounds of fat a year. This only puts Americans one step closer to obesity and death.
Even though Americans are headed down the fast road to obesity there are ways to stop this process. Adults need to take control and be good examples for their children. This includes eating a balanced diet and exercising. A balanced diet should consist of grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and healthy fats. This may seem like a large amount of food, but when it is spread out over three to four smaller meals and a snack, it is actually less food than the average American eats on a daily basis. The second part of a healthy lifestyle is exercise. It is suggested that adults do at least thirty minutes of aerobic activity per day. It is also suggested that some sort of weight training be done on at least two days per week. The fact is that only five or six percent of American adults follow this healthy lifestyle. If adults can start to live healthier and exercise, then perhaps the rising obesity rate can be halted.
Another way to curb the growing rate of obesity in America is to better educate children on eating right and exercising. Parents should limit the amount of time that children spend in front of the television, and make sure that they get outside and get active. Making exercising a fun family activity will teach children to enjoy working out. Another good way to keep children healthy is to cut out the sweets. Instead of giving children candy, give them fruit which is naturally sweet, or yogurt instead of ice cream. Also children need to learn that drinking water is better for them than pop or artificial fruit drinks. Parents can do this by replacing the pop with water at all family meals. If these tactics are used over a period of time, then children will learn and also see the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. Hopefully by better educating American children we can stop the growing rate of obesity and maybe even see it drop.
Although high fructose corn syrup may not be the only thing that is causing the obesity epidemic in America, it certainly does play a huge role. It is the responsibility of the consumers to know what they are putting in their bodies, and how it will affect their health. So even though high fructose corn syrup has contributed to making Americans obese and unhealthy it is up to the consumer to take the power back, and get healthy starting now. In this day and age, there is plenty of evidence available to prove that the foods being consumed be Americans are slowly killing them. If Americans to do not change their eating habits then they are doomed to be obese and unhealthy.

References
Appleton, N.N. (2011). Hansel and Gretel Had It Easy-No High Fructose Corn Syrup. Townsend Letter, 76.
Bauman, E. (2007). How America's CORN-UCOPIA Is Making Us Fat. Share Guide, (89), 22- 75.
Gaby, A. R. (2011). High-Fructose Corn Syrup: A Cause of Obesity?. Townsend Letter, (339), 36.
Gerson, C. (2010). Dr. Joseph Mercola explains The Connection Between HFCS and Obesity. Gerson Healing Newsletter, 25(2), 5-9.
Goldstein, J. (2009). HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP How Dangerous Is It?. Prevention, 61(5), 58-61.
Morse, A. (2012). History of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Cluster Seven-Biomedical Sciences, 1-
Skerrett, P. (2011). Is Fructose Bad For You?. Harvard Health, 1.…...

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