We’ve all seen the commercials claiming that corn syrup isn’t that bad for you.
At least that’s the message the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) is going for by asking the Food and Drug Administration to change its name to “corn sugar.” Nutrition experts have admitted that the sweetener is comparable to sugar, but sugar is nonetheless extremely fattening and too much of it can cause serious health problems.
Corn syrup was originally used because it cost less than real sugar; but now that there’s little price difference, it’s not used as much. The public perception of the sweetener hasn’t helped either. That may be the reason why the CRA recently budgeted $20 to $30 million for PR and advertising expenses for corn syrup, according to eatdrinkbetter.com, a blog dedicated to healthy lifestyles. The blog also named several reasons why corn syrup is bad for you:
1. Cancer cells are attracted to fructose and the sweetener has been linked to pancreatic cancer.
2. High fructose corn syrup can sometimes be contaminated with mercury.
3. The sweetener is also linked to autism and mental retardation.
4. Fructose is linked to liver disease and consuming drinks sweetened with it could have the same effect as alcohol.
5. The sweetener has been linked to obesity.
6. Fructose is also linked to high blood pressure.
A study conducted by Princeton University showed that high-fructose corn syrup accounted for significant weight gain in rats exposed to the sweetener, compared to rats exposed to table sugar only.
Keeping those facts in mind, here is something just as startling:
With all these facts posted online, I am reminded of Aaron Eckhart’s character in “Thank You For Smoking,” a film about a tobacco lobbyist who can argue for either side of any argument because he is good at persuasion. The situation is similar — people have the facts and know that smoking is dangerous and causes lung cancer, but they still smoke anyway. The same goes for high-fructose corn syrup — even given all the facts, they will not stop everyone from consuming the ingredient. So should the CRA still be worried?
Would a simple name change salvage the image of corn syrup, or would it be a failed attempt at changing the public’s perception of the ingredient?
Take a look at the CRA’s advertisement that corn syrup is OK and tell me what you think.