Wednesday, March 24, 2010

newsflash: commercials lie!

image courtesy of

When I get sick, as I have been for the past 3 days, I tend to watch more TV than usual. More TV = more commercials, at least for the tivo-less. This morning I saw a new (for me) commercial that made me want to hurl my snotty kleenexes at the TV: the corn lobby's commercial in defense of high fructose corn syrup.

The setup wasn't terribly memorable. I think it had something to do with two earnest twenty-somethings deciding whether or not to have dessert. Or, maybe I'm getting confused with the commercial in which the earnest twenty-something is trying to decide between oil-based whipped cream out of a tub or dairy-based whipped cream out of a can.

Anywho ... The punchline of the corn-lobby commercial was that high fructose corn syrup is "just sugar" and 100% natural. The earnest narrator on the commercial didn't go quite as far as telling viewers that sugar is good for you, but that was certainly the implication.

Setting aside, for a moment, the assumption that natural = good for you (umm, arsenic is 100% natural, too...), a new study from Princeton shows that HFCS generates more weight gain among rats than comparable amounts of table sugar. But wait, there's more:

"In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides."

The full study (via stumptuous) may be behind a subscription wall, but the summary is here.

Of course, plenty of other researchers have noticed that obesity rates have risen in parallel with consumption of HFCS. See this graph, from the CDC:

But the Princeton study is important insofar as it moves us a step closer to understanding that correlation may, in fact, be causation.

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