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How Sugar Compares With High-Fructose Corn Syrup

Study Shows No Differences in Weight Gain Between Sucrose, High-Fructose Corn Syrup
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Oct. 11, 2010 (San Diego) -- High-fructose corn syrup, a sweetener used in soft drinks and many other products, isn't more likely than sucrose, commonly called table sugar, to promote weight gain, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society.

The study was supported by the Corn Refiners Association, a trade organization representing corn refiners who make high-fructose corn syrup and other products.

When overweight and obese people were given each type of sweetener, ''we saw no differences between the two treatments," says researcher Joshua Lowndes of the Rippe Lifestyle Research Institute at Florida in Celebration.

Sweetener Wars

While high-fructose corn syrup has gotten a reputation as a "bad" sugar, the new study found that neither sweetener, when consumed as part of a sensible diet, promoted weight gain or fat accumulation.

To compare the two, Lowndes assigned 105 overweight or obese people, average age 38, to one of four groups. All were instructed to eat a diet that would maintain their current weight over the 10-week study.

They were assigned to drink milk sweetened with either high-fructose corn syrup or sucrose.

One group drank 10% of their calories from a high-fructose corn syrup-sweetened milk, and another group got 20% of their calories from the beverage.

A third group drank 10% of their calories from a sucrose-sweetened milk, and a fourth group drank 20% of their calories from the beverage.

The levels of sweetener consumed are typical levels, according to Lowndes.

They compared body weight before and after the study, as well as body fat percentage, fat mass, and abdominal fat. The participants visited the clinic weekly and reported their dietary intake.

''There were no differences in the amount of calories they decided to eat," Lowndes says of the sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup groups. "If there were differences, they are very small."

''Energy intake was up about 350 or 400 calories a day," he says.

At the end of 10 weeks, the difference in body weight for all groups averaged 2 pounds, he found. There were no substantial changes in body fat percent, fat mass, or belly fat.

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