A recent study has reportedly linked the availability of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to an increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes across the world, raising questions about the sweetener’s impact on global human health. Michael Goran, et al., “High fructose corn syrup and diabetes prevalence: A global perspective,” Global Public Health, November 2012. Researchers with the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine and the University of Oxford apparently examined HFCS consumption in 42 countries, concluding that in countries like the United States, which had the highest per capita HFCS consumption of 55 pounds per year, the average prevalence of type 2 diabetes was 8 percent “compared to 6.7 percent in countries not using HFCS.”
“The study reports that countries that use HFCS in their food supply had a 20 percent higher prevalence of diabetes than countries that did not use HFCS,” according to a Keck School of Medicine press release. “The analysis also revealed that HFCS’s association with the ‘significantly increased prevalence of diabetes’ occurred independent of total sugar intake and obesity levels.”
The Corn Refiners Association has taken issue with the study, deeming its results “misleading.” In her Food Politics blog and in The New York Times, New York University Nutrition Professor Marion Nestle questioned the study’s validity as well. “I think it’s a stretch to say the study shows [HFCS] has anything special to do with diabetes,” she said. “Diabetes is a function of development. The more cars, more TVs, more cell phones, more sugar, more meat, more fat, more calories, more obesity, the more diabetes you have.” See The New York Times, November 26, 2012; Food Politics, November 27, 2012.