Blaming High Fructose Corn Syrup

There have been many harsh words said about high fructose corn syrup as of late.  I can only say this from my own experience, but it seems to be the case in general as well.  High fructose corn syrup, they say, makes you leptin resistant.  Leptin is a protein hormone found in the body that is in charge of regulating food intake and energy expenditure.  The idea is this: the amount of Leptin in your body is directly proportional to the amount of fat, or adipose tissue, in your body.  So when the levels of adipose tissue rise, the levels of leptin rise causing you to eat less.  You can probably guess the content of many of the insults aimed at high fructose corn syrup.  High fructose corn syrup allows for us to eat more than we “naturally” would.

I’m skeptical.  I’m so skeptical that I put “naturally” in scare quotes.  I’m not skeptical that high fructose corn syrup does this, nor am I skeptical that leptin does what research suggests it does.  I’m skeptical, vaguely skeptical, of the idea that there is some way leptin, and the like, ideally functions.  Every individual has different amounts of body fat, and different eating habits.  Every individual probably has different naturally occurring levels of leptin.  There is little to no research on individual differences in leptin levels.  Nature has not provided us with explicit guidelines regarding what to eat.  And I think we can do a fair job coming up with these guidelines on our own.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t health risks with over consuming food.  But high fructose corn syrup is the straw man everyone’s attacking.  High fructose corn syrup, in so far as it allows us to eat more, can have benefits.  Especially in cases where individuals are having trouble getting adequate amount of calories, ex. athletes.  I don’t want to make the case that high fructose corn syrup is a good thing, but I do want to say that people need to take a responsibility for their own diet.  High fructose corn syrup is not the only sweetener out there.  It is all too common to blame the food around us for our poor diets, rather than ourselves.  The blame game in general has become incredibly popular so it’s no wonder it finds its place in the realm of nutrition.  Poor high fructose corn syrup; let’s give it a break.  And besides, it just tastes so good.  Can something so sweet really be so bad?