High fructose-containing sugars are used as sweeteners and preservatives in many processed foods. It has replaced the usage of table sugar and with its increasing usage, a number of health concerns have been raised. It has been associated with a variety of chronic illnesses like Obesity, type2 diabetes, mercury poisoning, coronary heart disease, hypertension, and stroke among others. Many products (known and unknown) contain it; the main cause of these health effects is not the high quantity but the prolonged usage of these products. It has been shown to affect children more than adults in the case of mercury poisoning since they are in a rapid growth stage. Research that is available is still not sufficient since other sugars can lead to the same illnesses. More needs to be done to determine how much HFCS is more detrimental to the health of those who consume it.
The health effects of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are important to study since most research carried out has shown that the morbidities related to it are common. Another reason is that their uses have become common among different people and it is essential to identify what health effects they have for the users. Studying this topic will enable the adverse effects of HFCS to be identified and allow for their prevention and management. I am studying this topic, and knowing the health effects, will enable me to disseminate adequate and correct information to others who need to know about HFCS and its effects. This will also help in identifying those concerns which are legitimate and those which do not have a true justification.
HFCS is a group of corn-derived syrup whose glucose has been transformed into fructose. This is achieved through enzymatic processing and is composed of water (24%) and sugars. It is in many foods and products consumed mostly in many households. It is the preferred sweetener in the food industry to sucrose (sugar). HFCS is the main ingredient found in sweets, candy, soft drinks, and canned fruits. In the list of ingredients of a product, the manufacturers are allowed to place labels “Corn Syrup” denoting HFCS (White, 2008). This has, therefore, made it difficult for consumers to know whether HFCS is in the products they purchase and contributed to the high level of consumption. For many years concerns have arisen about the health effects of HFCS leading to many researches on the correlation between it and different diseases. These diseases can also be caused by other sugars, which are used as sweeteners in consumer food products. Due to the health concerns and the chronic diseases that have been associated with it, it is crucial to study it, and the effect it has on health (Bray et al., 2004).
There are concerns that have been expressed by people on the utilization of High fructose corn syrup in food products. This is because it is commonly used as the primary sweetener in many food products and is the key ingredient of most products. The concerns connected with its uses are due to the adverse effects it has on health. It has been associated with many diseases that are also produced by other sugars, which are used as sweeteners. The use of food products containing high fructose-containing sugar has been condemned by many due to their publicized health concerns. These diseases are not unique to HFCS only but are also found in users of other sugar products. The use of high fructose corn syrup in many products has led to their high consumption without any awareness leading to detrimental health effects and raising further concerns (Melanson et al, 2008). A number of researches have been carried out to demonstrate the association between HFCS and diseases. They have shown that can lead to long term health dangers when consumed for a long period. HFCS is linked with a high risk of obesity and weight gain. Its capacity to cause this over other sweeteners is not quite clear. It is not the only cause of this but the issue is that it is the commonest found sweetener in most food products. Overconsumption what leads to obesity but not high levels of it, as many thinks? Consumption of excess amounts of HFCS increases the risk of type 2 diabetes over time. This chronic condition has adverse complications on a person affected and which include failure of some of the body organs (Bray et al., 2004).
Another health effect of HFCS is an increase in blood pressure (hypertension) and low-density cholesterol levels (“Bad” cholesterol). It causes fatness of the body and heart; this can further damage the coronary blood vessels to cause heart disease, hypertension and stroke. In those affected, arterial plaques build up and lead to blockage of the vessels. HFCS leads to chronic liver damage; this is because of scarring and deposition of fat within the cells. With time, the toxins produced by the body are not detoxified, and they further damage the body. HFCS has been shown to have high levels of mercury, exposure to this metal causes brain and nervous system damage. This damage is irreversible and mostly affects children who are in their rapid stage of growth. This occurs when large amounts of HFCS-containing foods are consumed by children (Ferder & Inserra, 2010).
HFCS consumption is affected various people with different degrees, those most affected are those who already have a genetic predisposition to these chronic diseases. Older people and growing children are also more affected than the average age adults because their body systems are vulnerable to damage. The body systems of children are still growing and adverse influences from high fructose corn syrup damage the developing systems. The body systems of those who are old are not in good functioning condition and effects from high fructose corn sugar further damage them (Stanhope et al, 2008).
High fructose-containing sugar is a common ingredient in many food products due to its properties of being both a sweetener and a preservative. Many people consume products without knowing that they contain HFCS or the health effects that it has. The health effects are not unique to HFCS but can also be caused by other sugars like sucrose (Bray et al. 2004). The cause of these chronic illnesses in the consumers is not because of high quantities of it in the products, but it is brought about by repeated consumption of high quantities of it. There is not yet clear evidence whether it is more dangerous health-wise to consume it than other sugars. More research needs to be done to show the correlation between consumption of it and other sugars and the differences in their health effects (Stanhope et al, 2008). Consumers still have to be concerned about it since there is sufficient evidence to show its strong association with chronic illnesses like type2 diabetes, increased blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and obesity.
Bray, G. A., Samara, J. N., & Barry, M. P. (2004). Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 79(4), 537–543.
Ferder, M. D., & Inserra, F. (2010). The Role of High-Fructose Corn Syrup in Metabolic Syndrome and Hypertension. Current Hypertension Reports, 12(2), 105 – 112.
Melanson, K. J., Angelopoulos, T. J., Nguyen, V., Zukley, L., Lowndes, J., & Rippe, J. M. (2008). High-fructose corn syrup, energy intake, and appetite regulation. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 88(6), 1738-1744.
Stanhope, K. L., Griffen, S. C., Bair, B. R., Swarbrick, M. M., Keim, N. L., & Havel, P. J. (2008). Twenty-four-hour endocrine and metabolic profiles following consumption of high-fructose corn syrup-, sucrose-, fructose-, and glucose sweetened beverages with meals. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87(5), 1194– 1203.
White, J. S. (2008). Straight talk about high-fructose corn syrup: what it is and what it ain’t. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 88(6), 1716–1721.