Some public health advocates are trying to position high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as the next trans fats, an ingredient to be shunned by the foodservice industry and consumers alike. Already, several organizations have launched campaigns to ban the syrup commonly used in soft drinks. In New York City, a petition urging the banning of high fructose corn syrup from schools is circulating.
“We are shocked and outraged at the explosion of diet-related diseases that have afflicted our country in the last 30 years, and in particular New York City,” wrote Larissa Phillips, who started the petition . “And we are troubled that the Office of SchoolFoods may be unwittingly playing a part in this epidemic.”
Last year, Florida State Rep. Juan Zapata sought to ban school districts from selling or using products containing high fructose corn syrup. Zapata, a Republican, and state Sen. Gwen Margolis, a Democrat, maintain that students who consume foods and drinks made with high fructose corn syrup are more likely to become obese and develop Type-2 diabetes.
Those accusations are not far off, says Christina Avaness, a nutritional consultant and author of Living Beyond Organic: with Super Enzyme Foods.
“HFCS acts like a drug,” Avaness says. “It causes sudden bursts of energy which quickly bottom out. It can cause headaches and contribute to feelings of depression. Furthermore, HFCS is a disaster in the digestive system, as it robs the body of vital nutrients that could have been absorbed and utilized.”
However, recent studies contradict Avaness’s claims. Even the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has sued numerous food companies to remove trans fats and sugar offerings, says high fructose corn syrup is no more dangerous than regular sugar.