Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Worse Than Sugar?

Learn why banning high fructose corn syrup won't necessarily solve the obesity problem.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
5-minute read
Episode #94

Is Sugar Making Us Fat?

You may have heard that the U.S.—and most of the Western world—has a growing obesity problem. It’s a relatively recent issue, springing up sort of suddenly in the last ten or twenty years. So far, it shows no sign of slowing down. Because this will have a catastrophic impact on public health and the economy, everyone is desperately trying to figure out what’s causing this sudden jump in obesity rates. 

One idea that has gained a lot of traction is that we’re consuming too much sugar.

Refined sugar affects appetite and metabolism in ways that promote obesity. The primary agent of this effect appears to be fructose, a type of sugar that’s found in virtually all concentrated sweeteners.

What’s the Truth About Fructose?

That is potentially a really important insight. Unfortunately, it’s being obscured by an enormous amount of misunderstanding and misinterpretation. I’ve written and talked a lot about fructose in the last year in an attempt to clear up some of the confusion. Judging from the emails and comments I’m still getting from readers and listeners, I haven’t been entirely successful.

Just so you know: You’re not the only one who finds this subject confusing. I just returned from a nutrition conference where I heard a lot of doctors expressing some of the same confusion that I’ve been hearing from listeners. So, I’d like to try one more time to dispel some of the most common misunderstandings about fructose—without losing track of the really important insight that’s at the center of all the confusion.

Is High Fructose Corn Syrup to Blame for Rising Obesity Rates?

Quite possibly. But there’s a little more to the story. And for some reason, as soon as you say the word “fructose,” people find it very difficult to focus on the details of what you say next. And the real story here is in the details. So, I’m going to start instead with an analogy. 


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.