Problems with recent reports attacking high fructose corn syrup demonstrate the need for clarity and caution on the part of research scientists, the National Corn Growers Association said. Even though researchers may acknowledge specific limitations, the mainstream media does not always act so prudently as they report the news.
"Even peer-reviewed research has limitations and caveats that need to be clearly stated by the authors and reported by the news media, so consumers have a clear understanding of what the research really means," said NCGA President Garry Niemeyer. "When it comes to high fructose corn syrup, it's important to avoid biases based on unfounded attacks. The science is clear that, enjoyed in moderation, there is no difference between HFCS and other sugars."
Niemeyer pointed out that not only do table sugar and HFCS have a similar composition, according to the American Medical Association, but the American Dietetic Association has found that, once absorbed into the bloodstream, the two sweeteners are "indistinguishable."
One example of problematic research is a study by researchers at Georgia Health Sciences University that, according to the Corn Refiners Association, draws unfounded conclusions about cardiovascular risks associated with consuming fructose, which is found in many sweeteners. The authors failed to provide needed perspective, CRA reports.
"This study erroneously suggests that consumption of high fructose corn syrup is increasing, and many of the markers they tracked for being 'known to increase risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes' were actually measured in the study to be within normal ranges for all subject groups," said CRA President Audrae Erickson.
Further, the authors clearly acknowledge several limitations of their study. Their results relied upon the memory of adolescents about what they ate - which may not reflect actual intake.
Another example pointed out by the CRA is a study published in the journal Metabolism that attempts to evaluate certain effects of HFCS compared to sucrose. The authors of the study conceded the study had "several limitations," and were unable to draw meaningful conclusions based on their data.
"This study does not compare high fructose corn syrup to sugar made from cane and beets, and it did not use real-life diets as a model," Erickson said. "In fact, the authors noted that the sugar, or sucrose, had 'broken down' into the very same sugar compounds contained in HFCS. The study is also inconsistent with the great weight of scientific authority showing the nutritional and metabolic equivalence of HFCS and sucrose."
A leading expert on metabolism and sweeteners found significant flaws in the research methodology.
"This was not a comparison of HFCS and sucrose as the authors claim in the title and abstract, but rather a comparison of HFCS and an inconsistent product that at the end contained almost no sucrose," according to cardiologist James M. Rippe, M.D., founder and director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute and professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Central Florida. "Results of this study cannot be used to form