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Big Sugar and Big Corn Syrup sue each other over who sucks less

by Denis Faye - The Nutrition Nerd | November 11, 2015

MechaGodzilla_2_and_Godzilla_have_a_dance_partyIn a battle best likened to Godzilla versus Mechagodzilla, the sugar industry took corn refiners to court last Wednesday, suing for 1.1 billion dollars over a 2011 ad campaign that described high fructose corn syrup as “corn sugar.”

Their issue? Um, like, HFCS isn’t sugar (meaning the stuff that comes from sugar cane and beets) and therefore corn refiners shouldn’t be allowed to “make stuff up.”

The corn folks are countersuing for about half a billion, claiming that the Sugar Association “falsely” claimed in their newsletter that HFCS causes obesity and cancer–which it very well might actually, but so does regular sugar, so whatever.

So, to sum up, Big Sugar is suing Big Corn Syrup, claiming they suck less. Big Corn Syrup is countersuing Big Sugar, claiming that they both suck equally.

I’m taking Big Corn Syrup’s side on this one. Table sugar and HFCS are chemically super similar–about half glucose and half fructose–and they’ve both been linked to all kinds of health issues, including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Big Sugar’s claim that their product is more natural because it’s less processed is absurd. Just because it takes fewer steps to transform something into its most vile possible form doesn’t make it better. That’s like saying a sinner in jogging shoes is more damned than a sinner in stilettos because she’s technically six inches closer to hell. Ultimately, they’re both screwed.

Added sugar is an isolated, single nutrient in such a pure, unregulated form that many experts argue it has become toxic.

UnknownFrankly, if I were the sugar industry, I’d be keeping quiet about this sort of semantic silliness right now, considering a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health shows that replacing added sugar (the processed kind, not the kind that exists in whole foods) with starch in the diets of obese children resulted in improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose tolerance after just ten days. In other words, while excess calories may have made these kids fat, it was probably all the added sugar in their diets that rotted their insides.

To be very clear, in the study, the added sugar was replaced by things like bagels and baked potato chips–so one cannot blame these health issues on carbohydrates in general. (Sorry, Paleo Joe.) The intervention did not, however, did not single out whether the added sugar came from beets, cane, corn, or Barry White. This study indicates added sugar is problematic in any form.

So how’s that for Exhibit #1, Big Sugar?

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