Touro University professor weighs in on international fructose corn syrup study

By Sarah, Rohrs, Times-Herald staff writer 
Posted: 12/04/2012 01:15:41 AM PDT

As use of high fructose corn syrup in foods has risen worldwide so has the prevalence of diabetes. That's the conclusion of a new study by the University of Southern California and University of Oxford. 

But a Touro University professor, who is conducting his own research on the food additive, said that while the study raises good questions, it provides no definitive answer. 

The international analysis suggests that countries adding high fructose corn syrup to food and drinks have a 20 percent higher prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, according to a research paper released by Michael Goran, a professor at the USC Keck School of Medicine.

The popular food additive is in many items including baby food, bread, snacks and sodas. 

The study findings indicate a serious global public health problem, researchers concluded. High fructose corn syrup is a big concern because people cannot adequately process the additive in the quantities being consumed, authors wrote.

The paper also suggests high fructose corn syrup could be a factor in Type 2 diabetes independent of the obesity epidemic and other kinds of sugars which are also common in food. 

Touro University chemistry professor Jean-Marc Schwarz said more attention should be put into the effects of high fructose corn syrup. 

"It could be one factor," Schwarz said of high fructose corn syrup's possible link to diabetes. He added the western diet also produces other health problems, such as obesity, liver problems and cardiovascular disease. 

"It's an interesting correlation, but with that we like to be very cautious. Sometimes people suggest correlation is causation. It's always difficult to point to causation," Schwarz said. 

"The danger is to over interpret," he added.

Researchers focused on use of high fructose corn syrup in 42 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Northern Africa and its diabetes rates.

Results of the study called "High Fructose Corn Syrup and Diabetes Prevalence: A Global Perspective," have been published in the journal "Global Public Health."

The United States is the highest consumer of high fructose corn syrup, but other countries have begun to catch up in widespread use of the additive in food and drinks.

Contact staff writer Sarah Rohrs at or (707) 553-6832. Follow her on Twitter @SarahVTH.

Fructose at a glance

* Per capita, Americans annually consume about 55 pounds of fructose. Hungarians come in second at 46 pounds.

* Australia, China, Denmark, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay have the lowest per capita consumption rate.

* High fructose content makes foods sweeter and provides processed foods more stability and better appearance.