A new study shows a link between high fructose corn syrup and diabetes rates in countries. The study shows that countries that mix the corn syrup into processed foods and soft drinks have higher rates of diabetes.
The study was published in the Global Health journal. In it, researchers compared the average availability of high-fructose corn syrup in a country to its rates of diabetes, reports WebMD.
In the 43 countries studied, researchers discovered that about half had little to none of the corn syrup in their food supply. In the other 20 countries, however, high fructose corn syrup was present in foods that ranged from about a pound per person in Germany to about 55 pounds each year per person in the US.
The study discovered that countries that use the replacement sweetener have rates of diabetes that are about 20 percent higher than countries that don’t use the substance. Those differences were still the same, even after researchers took into account body weight, population, and wealth in each country.
CBS News notes that co-author professor Stanley Ulijaszek, director of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oxford in Ehgland, stated:
“This research suggests that HFCS can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes, which is one of the most common causes of death in the world today.”
Sugar intake, daily intake of calories, and BMI were also considered, but researchers discovered the numbers were similar no matter where people live in the world. Ulijaszek added:
“Most populations have an almost insatiable appetite for sweet foods, but regrettably our metabolism has not evolved sufficiently to be able to process the fructose from high fructose corn syrup in the quantities that some people are consuming it.”
Study author Dr. Michael Goran, co-director of the Diabetes and Obesity Research Institute at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, explained that there is a massive difference in the amount of fructose contained in an apple than in high fructose corn syrup. He stated:
“It’s a question of the good, the bad and the ugly, with an apple — which has about 10 grams of fructose in it — being good, the fructose in [table] sugar being bad, and the fructose in high fructose corn syrup being the ugly.”
Despite the evidence that HFCS drives a country’s diabetes rate, there are some critics of the study. Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association, stated that the study doesn’t show HFCS causes diabetes. She added:
“Just because an ingredient is available in a nation’s diet does not mean it is uniquely the cause of a disease … even though Japan consumes more high fructose corn syrup every year than Mexico, the prevalence rates of diabetes in Japan are about half of Mexico.”
While the study does link higher rates of high fructose corn syrup in a country’s food supply to higher diabetes rates, more studies will be needed to prove if there is a more definitive link or not.