Friday, February 11, 2011

Wow, I forgot the Corn Syrup Industry pays Clients to defend Sugar...

Interesting Day Folks, I normally just let stuff like this go, but this is my second run in with the food industry defending it's systematic fattening of our country in lobbying in its defense.  I did an interview for a local paper on my opinion on chocolate milk which is referenced below.  The following day I received an email ( below) from the secretary of an actual MD physician trying to convince me of ? I'm not quite sure.   An actual MD, mind you.  Obama are you reading this??  Then after a brief curiosity and " WFT" moment, I took a look at their website to realize this institution is  paid by many food industry clients to apparently go out and  physicians that " corn syrup and sucrose are nutritional equivalents"   Are these people for real?  Did they miss the point?   Let's not quibble about semantics here.   Our kids are fat, we are in crisis, we have a massive obstacle to climb as pediatricians in obesity prevention.   Let's not forget there are powerful forces at work here... The food industry wields immense power.  It is packed with coffers of profit to indefinitely fund organizations like this.   Do we even have a chance?   If you want to improve the waning lifespan of America's Children, please take a look at this organization and question ( in loud voices) why they are trying to defend corn syrup, except to profit at the sad expense of our children.   RT, send it out on FB, etc...

Last summer I was seated at the table with the CEO of one of these major companies, at an innovation meeting, Yea, put the pediatrician next to this guy.  This was the first time I saw this perspective of the power and enormity of obstacles pediatricians face in prevention of obesity. 

To Your Best Health,

The Personal Medicine Team

SUBJECT:  From you and Alan Reed article:  “Flavored Milk, Tasty, But Adds Calories” The Paducah Sun, February 9, 2011


Dear Dr. Hodge,


I am writing to offer some comments and raise a few concerns about some statements attributed to you in the above referenced article.  I am particularly concerned about a few of the statements that you made about sugar content of flavored milk in general and high fructose corn syrup in particular. 


The article containing your quotes was sent to me by a colleague who knows that my research laboratory has been a leading source of scientific information related to the metabolism of both high fructose corn syrup and sucrose.  I want to comment on these issues not only as a researcher in this area but also the proud father of 4 school aged children who drink not only 1% white milk but also flavored milk, not only at home but in their schools.   Please allow me to offer a few observations and comments.   


There is wide scientific agreement that there is nothing about high fructose corn syrup that uniquely leads to obesity or other metabolic problems.  HFCS is no different from a nutritional or metabolic standpoint than sucrose, honey, or concentrated fruit juices.  Research in my laboratory (1-10) and in others (11,12) has shown that by every parameter yet measured in human beings high fructose corn syrup and sucrose are identical.  We have shown that high fructose corn syrup and sucrose are identical in terms of short term energy regulating hormones such as insulin, leptin and ghrelin.  They are also identical in terms of blood sugar response, uric acid and triglycerides, as well as appetite and calories consumed at the next meal. 


You may be aware that the American Medical Association looked at whether or not there is a unique link between obesity and high fructose corn syrup and after studying this question for over a year, in June 2008, concluded that: “High fructose corn syrup does not contribute to obesity more than other caloric sweeteners.”  The American Dietetic Association reached a similar conclusion.


It is not surprising that HFCS and sucrose behave similarly since they are essentially chemically identical.  Sucrose is 50% glucose and 50% fructose.  HFCS has two major forms used in food, one is HFCS-55 which is commonly used in soft drinks, this contains 55% fructose, 42% glucose and 3% other sugars.  HFCS-42 which is used in some baked goods and other foods, has 42% fructose and 58% glucose.  As a practical matter, sucrose and HFCS are absorbed identically by the human body, have the same sweetness and the same calories.  From a nutritional standpoint there is good evidence that HFCS, sucrose, honey and cane sugar are essentially interchangeable from a nutritional point of view (15).


The issue of whether HFCS is chemically or metabolically different from sucrose or uniquely a cause of obesity or other metabolic abnormalities has been discussed in two recent expert panels related to nutritive sweeteners which have been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (13-16) and the Journal of Nutrition (17-19).  In both instances the expert panels have unanimously concluded that there is no difference between HFCS and sucrose.  Even the initial authors who suggested there might be a link between HFCS and obesity, Drs. Bray and Popkin, have publically retracted this statement recognizing that it is not scientifically correct. 


Perhaps Professor Dr. G. Harvey Anderson best summed up this issue in an editorial in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition when he stated:


“The hypothesis that the replacement of sucrose by HFCS in beverages plays a positive role in obesity is not supported on the basis of its composition, biologic actions, or short-term effects on food intake.  Had the hypothesis been phrased in the converse, namely that replacing HFCS with sucrose in beverages would be seen as a solution to the obesity epidemic, its merit would have been seen more clearly.  Put simply, a proposal that a return to sucrose containing beverages would be a credible solution to the obesity epidemic would have been met with outright dismissal (20).”


I would like to specifically raise some concern about your suggestion that children who drink flavored milk are likely to gain weight.  I am not aware of a single study that suggests the consumption of flavored milk is associated with weight gain.  I have actually discussed this Dr. Rachel Johnson who is one of the leading experts on milk and nutrition in our country and she is also not aware of any research linking the consumption of flavored milk to weight gain or obesity. 

This may seem like a trivial point but I actually think it is quite important.  There are very good data that when school systems eliminate flavored milk from the foods they supply that milk consumption in general plummets (21).  In fact,  in one study, when flavored milk was removed from the school systems menu the overall milk consumption dropped 35% with corresponding decreases in vitamin D, calcium, potassium and phosphorus (21).  Of course, this is an unintended but significant consequence given that children are in their bone building years and to decrease the leading source of calcium and vitamin D in their diet seems to me very unwise. 

This is one of the reasons why the American Heart Association specifically excluded flavored milk from their scientific statement raising concerns about added sugar consumption and potential links to increased risk of heart disease (22).  Moreover, the suggestion that there is something different about high fructose corn syrup than sucrose is, for all the reasons I have already outlined in this letter not based on any theoretical or scientific evidence.  The two substances are essentially the same from a metabolic and nutritional standpoint.

You may not be aware that more sucrose is consumed each year in the United States than HFCS.  Worldwide, nine times as much sucrose is consumed as HFCS.  In parts of the world such as Mexico, Europe and Australia there is essentially no HFCS consumption and yet all of these areas are in the midst of epidemics of obesity and diabetes.

I am presenting all of this background information to you in the spirit of hoping that you will consider this body of scientific literature before singling out high fructose corn syrup as somehow uniquely deleterious to health.  I am not suggesting that people should consume excessive amounts of any refined sugar.  However, I believe it serves no useful purpose and is potentially distracting in the national debate to somehow think that high fructose corn syrup is different than other nutritive sweeteners, or more dangerous. 


As you know as a physician, when we have tried to blame any one specific component of our diet for causing obesity this has never worked.  Every time we in the medical community try to do this it makes the public trust us less.  I am sure you are aware that in the average American diet more than twice as many calories are consumed as fat than all nutritive sweeteners combined.  In fact, as a percentage of calories consumed, the amount of nutritive sweeteners has actually declined over the last 30 years.  We are simply eating too much of everything and not exercising enough.


Thank you for the opportunity to offer these comments.  I am delighted to see that a fellow physician is actively involved in helping the public understand what we in the medical community can do in the area of obesity.  I believe that having knowledgeable physicians, such as yourself, involved in this area can only improve the health and wellbeing of our country.




James M. Rippe, M.D.

Rippe Lifestyle Institute

21 N. Quinsigamond Ave., Shrewsbury, MA 01545 

T: +1.508.756.1228  •  F: +1.508.754.5098 • 

Posted via email from Personal Medicine

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