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High fructose corn syrup commercial on Food Network?!?

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Has anyone else seen this freaky commercial from some "corn growing organization" ? It's a feeble attempt to make HFCS seem OK. Totally weird.

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  1. And how is HFCS not ok?

    Don't point me to all the scientific literature harping on the dangers of HFCS, because for every one of those articles there is another that says the exact opposite.

    Let's just say that the benefits, or lack thereof, of HFCS is open to debate. In light of that, FN should be able to sell advertising to, as you say, a "corn growing organization".

    24 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      How about this: It's not okay because it doesn't taste good. And it's in everything processed, which for much of the US means it's in almost everything. It's one of the reasons American taste has gotten sweeter.

      1. re: mhoffman

        Hear, hear. Add to that the consumption of HFCS makes the American diet very high in nutrients derived from corn. At this stage of our knowledge, we don't even know what nutrients we need (remember when vitamins were all we needed?) and it's short sighted to think we can get everything we need from corn.

        1. re: coney with everything

          Good point about the homogenization of our diets. That is surely a bad thing, culturally as well as nutritionally.

          1. re: mhoffman

            Speaking of backing the PC food craze, has anyone TRIED the new 'trans fat free' Oreos?

            Happily, they are awful and I won't be buying them anymore, since there are less cookies and the price is the same, or higher.

            Sadly, the trans fat made them delicious.

            I miss trans fat. Trans fat was my friend.

            1. re: mhoffman

              And promoting corn monoculture, which is far from good economically & environmentally.

        2. re: ipsedixit

          I have to ask myself, "why would someone support the use of HFCS?"

          Even assuming (and I don't) that it is harmlessly digested by the body, it is a panacea for making garbage food taste less like garbage. You can still find scientists who insist that Global Warming isn't real or that evolution is just a "theory" that's as good as Intelligent design. Why would it surprise us that there are studies that negate the dangers of HFCS?

          We are a nation suffering from an epidemic of obesity. Diabetes II is increasing among every age group, including children. We expect everything we eat to be sweet. There are grocery stores in urban areas that don't carry anything but processed foods.

          HFCS is a cheap, easy way to make processed foods palatable and it shows up in more and more products. It's hidden. It has to be listed on the ingredient list, but you sure don't see companies promoting the use of HFCS on the front label.

          1. re: chicgail

            Food science, just like all branches, is changing all the time. There are just as many studies to show us that marijuana helps glaucoma as studies that show all is does is make lines longer at Taco Bell at 3AM.
            Global warming does have substantial proof against it - like the ice sheets are thickening and the hole in the ozone layer is not as big this year as it was last year and still smaller than two years ago. Global climate change does have cycles.

            A smart consumer - which sadly few are - finds out who funds the data they base their beliefs upon. One of my favorite lessons is about pseudoscience and the banning of DHMO - dihydrogen monoxide - otherwise known as water.

            1. re: TampaAurora

              Just a quick note asking that that focus here remain on HFCS and food, rather than jumping off to all sorts of other issues like marijuana and global warning. Thanks!

          2. re: ipsedixit

            But - who is funding all of the data that says it's ok? It's like aspartame. If you want to read something scary, read up on that, and all of the politicians involved in keeping it on the market.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspartam...

            1. re: michele cindy

              Did you hear that 1 man got fired, another quite his job & the 3rd man finally approved the use of "Sweet n Low" back then. It's pretty scary.

            2. re: ipsedixit

              I read a report in Gourmet Retailer that the FDA is denying the use of "natural" on any food product that contains HFC. Their decision was based on the way HFCs are produced.

              I have been lucy enough to be able to do some side by side comparisons and definitely prefer products made with sugar. I was able to get Coke made with sugar, Fever Tree Tonic and Gingerale. All 3 surpassed the HFC products by a wide margin.

              1. re: Candy

                Jones Soda went to cane sugar a while back. There are also "boutique" soda bottlers who use it (Boylan's, Goose Island, Sprecher). It makes a better soda.

                1. re: ferret

                  Hansen's has stopped using HFCS, too.

                2. re: Candy

                  Unfortunately this year FDA approved the label of HFCS as "NATURAL". Even though it has gone through 50-60 refining process, because it originated from corn, it's considered natural.

                  I feel that a huge problem with our whole food supply is the "refining" process. General public don't know or care. They thought that Non-fat & Non-Cal is better. While they are packed with highly refined stuff...

                  Corn syrup in fact indirectly causes "ACID RAIN"?????

                3. re: ipsedixit

                  HFCS is not okay because it is fructose and not glucose.

                  Glucose can be processed much easier by the human digenstive system. Fructose does not digest as well and forms fat around our internal organs and this raises the risk of diabetes and heart disease. The high levles of fructose also raises triglycerides and cholesterol, and decreases insulin sensitivity.

                  I spend a lot of time with my endo, and he's made it perfectly clear to his patients to avoid HFCS. He's seen several type 2 diabetes patients have a remarkable change when they avoid it.

                  I won't touch the stuff.

                  1. re: FoodChic

                    Fructose is found in many sweet tasting foods, fruit for example, not just in HFCS, so fructose in and of itself is not bad. Even regular table sugar, aka sucrose, is made of one molecule of glucose and one of fructose.

                    I think what we're talking about is the LEVELS of fructose (and in fact all other sugars) that are a concern, especially for diabetics. I'd venture to say that diabetics relacing twinkies with bananas or fruit will still get this "remarkable change" you mention. Essentially it's the H in HCFS that's the problem, not the F.

                    (Got some good info on sugar metabolism at this link: http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_7...)

                    1. re: Jonathan Saw

                      Jonathan Saw,

                      Fructose in fruit is different than the refined fructose in HFCS. And the fructose in fruit is not what you find in bread, soups, chips, sauces, frozen foods, soda, hostess products, "fruit" drinks, fruit roll ups and yes twinkies.

                      DId you not read what I wrote previously? My endo has told people to avoid HFCS. Because his patients are now reading lablels and eating foods without HFCS is why he' seen the turnaround in his type 2 pateints. I'll trust my endo's advice and the results he's had.

                      1. re: FoodChic

                        Fructose in HFCS is chemically identical to the fructose in fruit; if it weren't then it would not be fructose. High fructose corn syrup is a mixture of the monosaccharides fructose and glucose (plus a few trace oligosaccharides). The ratio of fructose to glucose varies depending on the application. In soft drinks it is typically 55% fructose and 45% glucose. In baked goods it is typically 42% fructose 58% glucose. (BTW the "high fructose" in HFCS only means high relative to "regular" corn syrup which is nearly 100% glucose.) Table sugar (from sugar cane or beets) is a disaccharide; when the disaccharide is cleaved in our intestine the result is one molecule of fructose and one molecule of glucose (i.e. a 50-50 mix). From this point forward the metabolism of these is indistinguishable from fructose and glucose consumed from HFCS.

                        Your endocrinologist is absolutely right that persons with diabetes (types I or II) should avoid HFCS. But they should avoid it in the same way they should avoid table sugar or corn syrup or honey.

                        Check out this link from the AMA:

                        http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/categ...

                        Their position is that at the present time there insufficient evidence to single out HFCS for restriction or warning labels.

                        1. re: kmcarr

                          Just to be clear: I don't have diabetes, but my endo has told me to avoid HFCS. He tells all of his patients this diabetes or not.

                          1. re: FoodChic

                            Often it is easier and more effective to give a broad warning than a nuanced one. 'Avoid xyz' as opposed to 'only eat so much of xyz'. 'dont drive when taking this medicine' as opposed to 'dont drive if it makes you drowsy'.

                            The benefits that your doctor sees may have more to do with an overall drop in sugars in the diet, as opposed to just a drop in corn derived ones. How many of his patents drop soda pop entirely, as opposed to seeking out Mexican ones sweetened with cane sugar? Or choose an unsweetened pasta sauce instead of searching for an expensive organic brand that contains 'evaporated cane juice'?

                            Telling you to avoid HFCS may just be an effective way of getting you to cut back on sweetened foods. It's not proof that fructose is worse for you than sucrose.

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    It truly ISN'T OK. If you think about all the processing to get HFCS and the process to make REAL sugar out of cane, the leaps and bounds to make the HFCS are outrageous. But, yet it costs so much less....Hmm? strange. Politics? yes! Anyway, something that is processed so much can't possibly be good for you. And the "in moderation" quote? It's in almost everything you purchase. How is that moderate? That's excessive. I was in El Salvador this past August and had a Coke made with cane sugar...the taste was soooo much better that the American Coke. Coke & Pepsi should start marketing new product that features "Cane Cola". I think they would see positive results.
                    In conclusion, I don't mind that HFCS exists, but the USDA needs to make companies who use HFCS and MSG post it in bold on the front of every package that has them as ingredients. All items with Alcohol and tobacco have to post that content and the harmful effects. And when I see that Kellogg's has HFCS in their products they promote a "Healthy Choice" it makes me feel that there are no trustworthy companies out there.

                    1. re: chadpitchfork

                      what is wrong with msg? unless you are alergic to it.

                    2. re: ipsedixit

                      Ipsedixit,
                      I agree with you. About every five years, there is some food that is declared to be poison. Then a spate of articles comes out confirming this, based on junk science. Then a bunch of other articles come out contradicting the earlier articles that the food is "poison." But these articles never get the play that the articles declaring the food poison get. And so it goes with corn syrup.

                      Generally, I am not a big fan of corn syrup because I can remember when Cokes were made from cane sugar, before the switch to high fructose corn syrup and they definitely tasted better. (I understand that you can buy a sugar cane-based coke during Passover, at least in stores in heavily Jewish communities. But I've never found it. I'll have to try the Jones brand mentioned in another post.)

                      Also, if you have ever made hot fudge sauce with a recipe (like the one that used to appear on the back of the Baker's Baking Chocolate carton) which eschews corn syrup, it is light years better.

                      On the other hand, I can't imagine making pecan pie without corn syrup.

                    3. Not just on the Food Network, saw it on Bravo three times tonight...freaked me out. If it is fine then why the need to have a commercial that is not selling anything?

                      56 Replies
                      1. re: bubbles4me

                        There are commercials galore for beer and given the choice I think most people would say that HFCS is no worse than a frothy can of Bud Light.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          True, but they don't put Bud Light into every single processed food product for sale in America. Not that I'm a big fan of processed foods, but seriously--does it have to be in everything?

                          And if I don't like Bud Light, I can always buy another brand of beer. Lotsa luck finding products with sweeteners other than HFCS. If it were just a supply-and-demand thing, I wouldn't object so much. But the members of that "corn growing organization" have leveraged government subsidies--our tax dollars--to implement a pricing structure that has largely eliminated their competition in the commercial sweetener business.

                          Over the past decades, the inflation-adjusted cost of fruits and vegetables has skyrocketed, while the cost of sweeteners has, thanks almost entirely to HFCS, dropped dramatically. Take a look at all the overweight and obese kids around today. Go into a convenience store and note the average size of a soda. Read the ingredient list on a can of Spaghetti-Os. And ask whether you really want your tax money being spent to make products manufactured by the members of that "corn growing organization" ever cheaper and more plentiful.

                          Oh, and paying for the annoying ads, too.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            Perhaps, but I actually prefer HFCS to cane sugar in certain products.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              I'm all for allowing the market to satisfy people's personal preferences for HFCS or anything else (within limits; bringing laudanum back to the druggist's or arsenic back to the hardware store strikes me as a bad idea). And I don't have anything against HFCS per se.

                              My objection is that corn products subvert market forces because government subsidies make them artificially cheap. This ends up being a problem for the economy, the food supply, and the environment.

                              And then, to add insult to injury, the benefactors of our government's largess use their ill-got revenues to purchase ads that are dismissive of legitimate--although admittedly unsettled--health claims. I dunno, it just rubs me wrong.

                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                Conur. I hear you on the misguided subsidy policies of our government, and it's not just with corn, but wheat, soybeans, etc.

                                In cases like this, I think the blame lies less with the "corn growing organization" than with the partygoers that have been drinking themselves silly in Denver (last week) and St. Paul/Minn (this week).

                            2. re: alanbarnes

                              Even though I am constantly hearing about the "epidemic" of overweight and obese kids, I seriously don't see it. And I am the mother of a young son, and around children all the time. At least where I live, the vast majority of the kids are absolutely NOT fat, and if anything, are very active and thin.

                              We were also in Disney in April - certainly no shortage of kids there, and again, hardly any even remotely plump children. I just can't figure out where they are hiding all these obese kids. It's a head scratcher.

                              1. re: flourgirl

                                There is a reason why statisticians and epidemiologists don't merely report the anecdotal evidence of what they happen to see around him. Your convenience sample is biased.

                                1. re: mhoffman

                                  Maybe, but the problem with this is that you are telling people that you can't ever use your own eyes and experience to form an opinion. And I did say that I don't see it in my area. The fact remains that I am an adult who moves through the world fully capable of forming an opinion and I don't see a bunch of fat kids running around all over the place. So where are they?

                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                    It seems that you are suggesting that epidemiologists are falsely reporting an epidemic. Is that correct? I live in Los Angeles and see obese children all the time.

                                    1. re: mollyomormon

                                      I'm in LA as well - our kids' school has many overweight kids, and many are from the areas that poster MrsT mentions...

                                      I think there are many variables that will contribute to many varied observations. The diet and activity profiles of the average kid in many urban areas will vary drastically from kids in suburban and rural areas. This is particularly true when it comes to activities. Many urban kids are in a "hold" position after school, as their parents are still working and have relegated the schools to monitor and care for their kids after school. The physical activity level is minimal, and the first thing they are given after school is "nutrition," consisting of some sweetened drink and a pastry-type snack. They are told to sit and finish this. Afterwards, they sit at the tables and either socialize or do their homework until their parents come to pick them up. Some will be allowed to go on the playground, depending on their age and individual profile. Once they are picked up, many are shuttled into the house for dinner. Another issue is that even if they aren't shuttled directly in the home for dinner, many live in neighborhoods that "are not conducive" to outdoor activities - read gang and drug activities. This further hinders their abilities to be active. These same neighborhoods also follow the profile that MrsT points out. The business risks that a supermarket must take on by opening a store in such neighborhoods far outweighs the potential economic benefit, thereby reducing the number of healthy choices of consumers in vast areas of urban America. These kids don't have the privilege of soccer or little league, few have backyards or safe parks to play in, or go be kids catching frogs around a pond or roll around in open fields. Many end up satiating their frustrations with more food that is provided by many school districts. And much of this food is of relatively low quality and high in fat, sweeteners, and salt.

                                      With all due respect, the reason one doesn't see Disneyland's landscape littered with overweight kids is that many of the kids who suffer these health issues can't afford to go to places like Disneyland. We get kids who are from depressed neighborhoods coming by at least a couple of times a month, trying to sell us third-rate products or magazine prescriptions through some supposed character-building program just so they may have a long-shot chance at going to places like Disneyland. As hard as these kids work at this pie-in-the-sky proposal, if fate were to have landed them in a family whose socio-economic were similar to many of us, that kid's fortitude would be applauded by the community, and Disneyland would be a requisite on his annual intinerary, along with Tae Kwon Do, Summer camp, swimming lessons, and afterschool math tutoring...

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        If you want to concentrate on the HFCS epidemic demographic, don't go to Disneyland.... go to any small town midwestern Wal-Mart on a Saturday afternoon.

                                        Mr Taster

                                    2. re: flourgirl

                                      Every day I pass through several "wealthy" areas and several "poor" areas. The heavier children are usually in the poorer neighborhoods. These are the areas that do not have access to quality produce or even supermarkets in some instances. The kids can't play outside in parks because the parks are too dangerous and/or unkept. It's also easier and cheaper for a single mother of 3 to buy her kids a bag of chips for 50 cents than a pound of apples.

                                      1. re: MrsT

                                        Same here in Biloxi, and it seems MS in general. There aren't just a lot of obese children, but obese children in general and this also happens to be one of the poorer states.

                                        1. re: MrsT

                                          Well said! I'm in the NY area and see the same findings as you report. What's "obese" to someone elsewhere to, may mean just a bit "chubby" to someone else. There are quite a lot of big "chubby" kids out there. Much more then when I was growing up.

                                          1. re: michele cindy

                                            I completely agree with your last sentence. There are many more "chubby" kids then when I was growing up. I think that proves that High Fructose Corn Syrup at least plays a part in the overweight factor. I think in general, kids get less exercise than years ago. However, I personally know children who are moderately active who have a weight problem. Their parents think they are eating healthy, however even foods that are marketed as "healthy" or "all natural" are loaded with HFCS. I often asked myself, "Why could we (meaning people my age when we were kids) eat pretty much anything we wanted, and not worry about our weight?" I dare you to take a look at your favorite soda or candy bar from when you were a kid. It will taste differently than you remember, because now it's made with HFCS; notice that's usually in addition to sugar! Just how sweet do we really need it?! I have to watch my sugar intake - I'm not diabetic, but if I have too much sugar without offsetting with protein, I tend to get headaches and feel shaky. This just started in my adult years. I was working late and needed a snack, so I went to the snack machine and thought, "Even though it probably has a ton of calories, I'll get a Payday bar because at least it's packed with peanuts and will offset the sugar"........Well, the peanuts might as well have been marshmallows, because within just a few minutes I was feeling shaky and started getting a headache. I looked on the label, and sure enough "HFCS". And, to all you naysayers: I formed this opinion without even realizing that others felt this way. I started tracking what I was eating to make me have the headaches, etc. Now that I know I'm not alone, I feel better; but I wish companies would realize what they're doing. You have to buy organic in order to avoid the HFCS. Most items that are organic use cane juice or real sugar as a sweetener.

                                        2. re: flourgirl

                                          I'm not telling you not to use your eyes; I'm just telling you that science works.

                                          1. re: mhoffman

                                            But then what I'm hearing is that the "epidemic" seems to be largely confined to certain segments of society. And while I certainly agree that society as whole shouldn't ignore ongoing problems just because they don't necessarily affect everyone in society equally, at the same time policy makers and others need to be careful about forming opinions and making sweeping policy changes based on statistics that may not accurately reflect conditions in many parts of the country. Statistics may be based on science, but once those statistics get into the hands of policymakers, at all levels of society, way too often they are used as another tool to exert control over people and I don't like it one bit.

                                            Furthermore, I sometimes shop in grocery stores where people use food stamps. These stores are full of produce, of which there is always something on sale, as well as meat fish and poultry, also some of which is on sale each and every week. And what do a lot of these people fill their carts with? Frozen dinners (which are very expensive and often fat and salt laden) and a whole lot of junk food. It is not "society's" failing that these people eat unhealthy food. It is not the "evil HFCS" that is making them obese and unhealthy. It is their own poor decisions. They are grown people who just make bad choices. At what point are they responsible for themselves and their families?

                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                              A good portion of this trend seems to be economically driven.
                                              Given the economy continues to tank - just heard more negative stats on the national economy (housing, mortgage defaults, payroll cuts, unemployment) on NPR, one can expect this trend to continue as more people are forced into more dire socioeconomic conditions that are similar to that which I described upthread.

                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                I'm sorry if I'm being dense, but I'm not sure where you were going with this...

                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                  Whoops, my post should say, i agree with Flourgirls post

                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                    I was responding to your mentioning about statistics and trends in your first paragraph. In particular, "certain segments of society," is what I think the area that will be expanding in the near future. Also, One's perception of what obesity vs. what "normal" is in certain parts of the country can be very different.
                                                    I work and live in an area around LA that is visited by many tourists. The tourists who are from other parts of the US are very easy to point out - they're the ones who are typically 30 to 50 pounds overweight (and dressed horribly in comparison!) compared to their European counterparts. I know this is highly subjective and just a small population sample, but the consistancy of my observations tells me that this could be a national problem.

                                                    And I also recently read an article based on the one that poster alanbarnes is referring to that seemed to reinforce my thoughts about this being a national trend.

                                                    I don't want to blame this whole thing on HFCS. But I think it is a major symptom of what is going on in the food industry and society. Supersizing, time constraints, profit margins, large- scale agribusinesses, economic conditions, social problems, education, etc., are all playing into this current problem. Our perceptions on what is a normal serving size has changed drastically, where at one time a 16-ounce Coke was considered to be huge, it is now replaced by a one-litre bottle or even a 64-ounce+ Super Gulp at the local convenience store. Carl's Jr. serving up their mega-burgers with gobs of agribusiness protein stacked on top of more agribusiness protein sandwiched by agribusiness buns laced with who knows what... These sandwiches have enough beef to feed a whole family in most cultures, yet in our culture, one person will eat this with a huge side of hydrogenated oil-laced fries, and a shake loaded with more hydrogenated oil, HFCS, and agribusiness dairy. The food web that the typical American is incorporated into easily leads down the path of obesity and all of its health issues.

                                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                                      I remember when a 12-oz. Pepsi was considered huge, and most sodas came in 7-oz. bottles (for a nickel, but that's another story!). We lived in farming towns in Illinois, and yes, there were some fat kids, and once in a while a truly obese one, who was usually said to have some kind of "gland" problem (that oddly enough seemed to run in the family). But skinny, or at least lean, was easily the norm.

                                                      The industry hype about how fructose and sucrose are "chemically identical" is a clever diversion, deliberately avoiding the fact that the corn syrup has a much higher glycemic index that cane sugar...and when you get used to that fast sugar fix, and come to regard that level of simple, uncomplicated over-sweetness as normal, you're right where they want you. And probably pre-diabetic, as well.

                                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                                        C'mon Will, you're not that old! Or am I as well? :) 7 oz Cokes were a dime in my day, and 16 oz sodas were I think 20 cents or a quarter - only the teens normally got those...

                                                        Great info about the higher glycemic index - my mom laid off the junk food/fast food/prepackaged, among other things, because she was borderline-diabetic and is fine now... It's funny - when she tails off of her "better" ways and eats out at (what I consider) crappy places like senior lunches (the ones where $1.25 gets you a hot meal of questionable origin) or fast foodish places, her blood sugar soars. When she pulls back from those options and goes back on course (eating meals at home, going out to more viable options), her blood sugar is fine... Something is going on...

                                                        I always enjoy your reads, Will. You're down to earth, always pleasant, have great recs, and have great experiences to tie things together...

                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                          Hee hee. I read these "I remember when..." posts and think, "The next thing you know I'm going to hear about walking 5 miles to school in the snow." :-D

                                                          1. re: Avalondaughter

                                                            uphill, both ways and without shoes like my grandfather?

                                                        2. re: Will Owen

                                                          Can you give a reference that compares the glycemic index of corn syrup v. cane sugar? The GI database at U Sydney is not helpful for this.

                                                          Also, which corn syrup are you talking about? The least processed form is mostly glucose, and in fact is the most common source of chemically pure glucose (dextrose). HFCS can be as high as 90 fructose, though the forms used in food manufacturing are usually blended (e.g. 55% fructose to simulate sucrose, 42% is preferred for baking).

                                                          If the HFCS has roughly equal glucose and fructose ratios, is it's glycemic index any different than that of cane sugar, which has the same sugars, only loose bound into sucrose molecules.

                                                  2. re: flourgirl

                                                    Ever consider that the segments of society hardest hit by the obesity "epidemic" are those that consume the largest amount of processed foods, including HFCS?

                                                    The possibility that obesity statistics "may not accurately reflect conditions in many parts of the country" has been conclusively eliminated by the CDC. In the 1980s, not a single state had an incidence of obesity over 15%. By 1996, obesity rates had increased, but no state had an obesity rate of over 20%. Fast forward to 2007, and Colorado is the ONLY state with an obesity rate of LESS than 20%. http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesi... (And it's not that Colorado doesn't have a problem; its obesity rate was less than 10% in the 1980s and less than 15% in the 1990s; now it's up over 15% but less than 20%.

                                                    )

                                                    Whether there's a causal relationship between HFCS and obesity is the subject of legitimate scientific debate. But there's no legitimate dispute that there's a direct correlation between the rise of obesity in the US and the use of HFCS as a sweetener.

                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                      The fact remains that no one is forcing anyone to eat food that contains HFCS. I am sick to death of people being portrayed as victims. The vast majority of adults in this country are free to make choices. And if they choose to eat too much food that is unhealthy that is their choice. Are there some people who don't have access to fresh produce and the like? Maybe. But it certainly isn't so many people that it could create an "epidemic" of obesity.

                                                      1. re: flourgirl

                                                        It's not about victimization as much as disallowing the choice that you imply exists. HFCS is everywhere and the reason it is everywhere is because we are DENIED choice. American food producers do not have a choice in the marketplace -- price-fixing on sugar keeps the price artificially high and forces the use of HFCS to stay competitive. The companies that use sugar or non-HFCS sweeteners exact a price premium on their product to account for the added cost (and in some cases, justa plain premium). If you're on a low income you buy what you can afford -- and fresh produce isn't necessarily on the radar. It's easy to be dismissive but the real story is much, much more complicated.

                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                          I partially agree with your assertion of the Victicrat mentality, but at the same time, one of my daughter's best friends lives in an area that most would consider inner-city/borderline ghetto, and the choices there are very very limited. I don't know if you have similar experiences or exposure, but the contrast between their typical choices and ours is eye-opening...

                                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                                            I did say that I was aware that there are some people faced with very limited choices. But this doesn't translate into a country-wide epidemic. So if there IS an epidemic on that scale it just can't all be attributed to people who live in areas with few choices. And if there is the remotest possibility that it does, then it is even more support for my argument that broad sweeping policy decisions made to address the issues uncovered by the statistics so many people here seem to love so much, are, at best, misguided.

                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                              Fair enough... I do completely agree on your inference that big govt rarely solves most social issues that they set out to deal with...

                                                              1. re: flourgirl

                                                                Median household income in the US for 2006 was just over $48,000. For those who don't believe in statistics, "median" means half the households (at least 2 earners) in the US earn below that amount. Add to that today's report of 9.4 million Americans being unemployed and it's not hard to see that there's a problem there. The "below-the-line" people don't shop at Whole Foods, many don't have transportation that allows them to comparison shop or go to stores outside their immediate area. It's just smug to say "I don't see it with my own eyes so it can't really be happening."

                                                                1. re: ferret

                                                                  People who twist words and use statistics to bash people over the head are the ones who worry me the most. My point, once again, is that statistics do not operate in a vaccuum. How the results of a statistical analysis are applied makes all the difference. And your statistic regarding household income proves my point exactly. The problem with those income statistics is that costs of living vary widely across the country. The cost of living is extremely high in my state (NJ) and the same income here that will barely leave you hanging on will do quite nicely in another state that does not have the outrageous property taxes that we have, the outrageous auto insurance premiums, the outrageous health insurance costs, the outrageous state taxes, etc. But yet, our federal government is constantly making new policies based on that $48,000 statistic without once considering the huge disparity in the cost of living in different states.

                                                                  And once friggin again, I DO sometimes shop in stores where there are people who are on foodstamps. And almost without fail they are loading their carts with total crap food. These people CAN afford better food, and yes, they would have to buy less food. But then maybe they wouldn't be obese, would they?

                                                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                                                    Sure, it's possible to afford it, flourgirl, and it's probably more cost-effective if you're just looking at dollars alone. But consider that "non-crap food" can often involve investment of time and/or skills that people may not have (or know how to extract). In general, on Chowhound, we're a biased group because we like food and likely put lots of thoughts and investment into what we eat (in terms of money, time, skill etc.) without considering it an excessive burden. But for many others, "total crap food" is what feels most feasible....

                                                                    For what it's worth, I'm coming from the perspective of working in a program that aims to bring limited-resources audiences (e.g. people in the Food Stamp Program) to a point where they gain self-efficacy, skills and time-management to move away from highly-processed (and less-cost-effective foods) that are often filled with HFCS. I do not know all their complete life stories, but what I've come to realize is that it is a blessing to, with no significant struggle:

                                                                    - be in a position to enjoy food without excessive financial worry
                                                                    - have the interest to learn more about what I eat (e.g. read labels, soundly interpret studies that are saturating media outlets, etc.)
                                                                    -have learned the skills and time management to work with less processed foods and realize that it is cost-effective

                                                                    I don't mean this is a "holier-than-anyone-else" way- it's just something that I appreciate.

                                                                    For some people, microwaving that frozen meal or heating up that jar of HFCS-laden tomato sauce for pasta is a step towards "less crap" food and fiscal responsibility (e.g. they're shopping, likely (?) looking for things on sale, and using their kitchen instead of ordering equally processed foods away from home). In some cases, filling their carts with "crap" is one of the small steps on the journey they're taking towards doing better for themselves. Perhaps at a later point they can come to the point of realizing that even processed foods on sale are not as cost-effective as cooking with more "whole" foods. And hopefully this realization comes at a point when they're actually using their skills to make something delicious and wholesome for themselves. After all, experience is what usually makes us believers......

                                                                    Certainly what I've witnessed and experienced is unique (isn't this true for us all? :), and we often form out opinions based on these. However, using a "snapshot" of a person's life (e.g. what they're putting in their grocery cart on a given day) to draw generalizations about that they can and can't do is on par with passing judgment on you because you're forming opinions based on what you've witnessed and experienced. IMHO, neither of these are fair conclusions to draw.

                                                                    1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                      The bottom line is that we have been denied options on a massive scale. Producing food in large quantities is all about economies of scale and a few cents here or there turn into massive costs for producers. When sugar's price got artificially inflated that meant any sugar derivative became "too expensive" for commercial manufacturers. Sure, there are alternative products available to the HFCS-laden crap but they're nearly always more expensive or left to Whole Foods-type markets.

                                                                      The crocodile tears of the HFCS refiners is what I find appaling -- after raping consumers for 26 years they now act like they're victims of a smear campaign. Sure, ADM, Cargill, Tate & Lyle and the rest are the victims.

                                                                    2. re: flourgirl

                                                                      I know there is no point in belaboring this discussion, but another reason poorer people might choose processed foods is that they don't have the leisure time or skills to prepare food from scratch. If you live next to a good produce source and can shop every time you cook, great...if you must go to the supermarket once a week you must have the ability and willingness to plan meals carefully so your food doesn't spoil. If you are working two jobs to make ends meet and dealing with the numerous other headaches that lack of money injects into your life, it may be a tall order to reorient your life into becoming a skilled homemaker.

                                                              2. re: flourgirl

                                                                Although lack of access to healthy food is a problem for some people, the cost per calorie is the real driving force behind the obesity epidemic in the poor. Processed foods are much cheaper on a per-calorie basis than whole foods. So people with real or perceived food insecurity therefore tend to buy more processed foods and fewer healthy foods.

                                                                Data collected by the US Department of Health and Human Services shows that poor women are approximately 50% more likely to be obese than women of higher socioeconomic status. Here again, obesity correlates with consumption of HFCS: most of the fructose in the American diet comes from soft drinks and processed foods, and fructose consumption levels decline with increased household income.

                                                                The reason is simple. According to Dr. Adam Drewnowski, Director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition in the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine, "It's a question of money...On a per calorie basis, diets composed of whole grains, fish, and fresh vegetables and fruits are far more expensive than refined grains, added sugars and added fats. It's not a question of being sensible or silly when it comes to food choices, it's about being limited to those foods that you can afford."

                                                                Around the world, people who are concerned about feeding themselves and their children purchase foods that are cheap and nutrient-dense. The rest of the world, however, does not subsidize the manufacture of highly-processed foods. As a result, US foods made by the members of the Corn Refiners Association are artificially cheap, and artificially attractive to those with limited means.

                                                                I'm not saying that HFCS should be banned. I'm not even saying that the Corn Refiners Association shouldn't be able to run ads on TV. What I am saying is that our tax dollars should not be used to artificially tilt the playing field in favor of highly processed foods and against healthier choices, especially when the result of those subsidies is higher federally-funded health care costs.

                                                            2. re: flourgirl

                                                              I agree with you 100%.

                                                              I grew up in those neighborhoods, and it's called getting yourself into better circumstances. College loans, etc. My mother never fed us a vegetable.

                                                              We ate fast food and diner food. Relearning and teaching myself is a constant struggle. But the farmer's market has never ceased to be a delight to me.

                                                        2. re: mhoffman

                                                          I don't see them either. Yes I do, whenever I stop at McDonalds. The ones working there, and few that stop in, that's where I've noticed them.
                                                          What makes me worry, the stats and hype are from doctors that are treating the obese kids,(or have a book they've written) the healty ones are not in their offices, they're usually at the soccer fields. Baloney.

                                                          1. re: chef chicklet

                                                            ~~the stats and hype are from doctors that are treating the obese kids~~

                                                            Actually, the primary source of data is public schools, which measure and weigh all students annually and forward the information to public health agencies.

                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                              Sorry, not trying to be a brat, but that's so interesting, did you know what's on the menu for school this week? Burritos and hamburgers. What a very interesting fact if that is true.

                                                        3. re: flourgirl

                                                          I go to Disney at least yearly and they are pretty much everywhere. Not four year olds, mind you, but 10, 12 , 16 year olds. Also, living in Miami, I have seen the average teenager get chubbier over the last few years. I've been seeing skinnier kids, thank goodness, but it was getting pretty bad.

                                                          1. re: Icantread

                                                            And all I see are teenagers who are toothpicks.

                                                            1. re: flourgirl

                                                              Flourgirl and everyone else who thinks there's no fat epidemic, you need to get out of Pasadena and open your eyes. Disneyland? Try stepping into County hospital. Have you been there yet? No? Well, that's a shame. Feel free to continue pontificating from your pedestal, the rest of us have real work to do.

                                                          2. re: flourgirl

                                                            Where do you live? I see lots of fat kids here in rural SW Ontario( and in MI when I cross the border). Its really sad. One day, my spouse and I counted them as we sat on the beach. We also watched them all drink regular soda or " juice" boxes that are full of HFCS.

                                                            1. re: Calipoutine

                                                              You and your spouse sat and counted 'fat kids'? Did you point and giggle?

                                                              Remind me to go kick sand in your face next time I go to the beach.

                                                              I just didn't want to let the thread progress farther without reminding everyone...

                                                              I am the biggest supporter of "everyone is responsible for what they put in their own mouths, etc etc etc"

                                                              But be aware, there are a million OTHER possible issues for childhood obesity. Juvenile diabetes, metabolic disorders, thyroid issues, glycogen storage diseases, muscular dystrophys, etc.

                                                              I'd hate for one of those, let's just say, seven chubby children to be genuinely unable to do anything about their weight who saw a pointed finger outstretched their way and possibly knew why.

                                                              I was thin my entire life, and have a rare form of adult onset gsd which has made me chubby. My husband things delightly so, but hey.... I'd hate for chowhounders to see me in a restaurant and think I need to watch my portion sizes (which are far less than the us average)

                                                              1. re: sommrluv

                                                                Rare disorders and other possible medical causes of obesity are not new and do not explain why there is an ever increasing percentage of obese people in this country. I have to believe that the cause is cultural.
                                                                Yes people are ultimatly responsible for what they put in their own mouths but this is an oversimplification. I believe that there are many evils perpitrated in the name of greed. I believe that causing potentially dangerous side effects by refining food is one of those evils. I have a hard time blaming the ignorant masses for the negative health effects caused by the food that they are encouraged to buy. Remember we are talking about a commercial that is trying to sell people on hfcs.

                                                                1. re: keith2000

                                                                  I'm not providing excuses for people. I'm accusing the people who take a glance at the population and assume they eat processed food.

                                                                  What are you doing for the general population? I teach people how to cook from scratch from readily available cheap and Yes, organic foods! Hate to ring my own bell, but get out in the community.

                                                                  Saying poor people are ignorant is worse than the people marketing to them. That's like saying they aren't responsible for their mortgage products because they didn't bother to read the contracts. They are poor, and therefore stupid? Everyone is born with the same chances in life.

                                                                  It's what you do with them that counts. And that includes being responsible for what you put in your mouth, and not glancing at others and forming a judgement on their lives.

                                                                  HFCS is in a lot more foods than it was in even a year ago. Bring back the local farm. Teach portion control. If we put shows like this on tv, it will be socially acceptable and we'll see results.

                                                                  1. re: sommrluv

                                                                    "Everyone is born with the same chances in life. "

                                                                    This is an extremely debatable point. You wouldn't say that a rich white American is born with the "same chances" as a desperately poor baby in Mogadishu, would you? If you believe that all Americans are born with the "same chances" then I think that is a faith-based rather than reality-based assertion.

                                                                    1. re: sommrluv

                                                                      It's not a matter of being ignorant -- in many case it's based purely on access. In large urban areas (like Chicago, where I live) there are plenty of neighborhoods that are underserved by the larger supermarket chains and have to rely on local stores with limited -- and relatively expensive -- produce. When people can't readily comparison shop or don't have the time to take a bus or train to a megamart their choices are necessarily limited.

                                                                      1. re: sommrluv

                                                                        sommrluv, you missed my point entirely. Please read my post again. I am confounded by your response. I do not understand where your anger is comming from.
                                                                        There is a big difference between the word ignorant and the word stupid. I never asserted that low income people were stupid. I never actually said anything about income. I said "ignorant masses" that is everyone who does not have or is not given information. My point was that the people who try to sell the masses potentially dangerous products for their own personal gain are evil. masses are all of us.
                                                                        Also, please understand that you don't know anything about me. Your encouragement for me to "get out in the community" assumes that I am not out in the community. I am not going to ring my own bell and I am not going to share personal information about myself. I will assure you that you don't know me well enough to assume that I am not involved.

                                                                2. re: flourgirl

                                                                  I think a great deal of these obese kids are in the inner city and ghettos. You certainly will not see them at Disney because they don't have the money.

                                                                  1. re: stricken

                                                                    No obese kids at Disney? LOL!! Both you and flourgirl must be kidding.

                                                                    Your assumption that kids from well-to-do families are not overweight is ridiculous. The omnipresence of fast food, candy, McD's and HFCS hidden in otherwise "healthy" foods" affects all of us.

                                                                    1. re: chicgail

                                                                      While there are too many fat rich kids, there's no dispute that household income is a significant predictor of obesity. (Strauss, et al., Influence of the Home Environment on the Development of Obesity in Children (1999) 103 Pediatrics 6:e85; Sutherland, et al., Higher Prevalence of Childhood Overweight and Obesity in Association with Gender and Socioeconomic Status (2008) 65 Nutrition & Dietetics 3:192.) Children from low-income families are much more likely to be overweight or obese than children from more affluent backgrounds.

                                                          3. It's everywhere, and not just on the Food Network. Don't see anything weird about it and am frankly surprised that it took the industry this long to launch such a PR/advertising campaign. Any major industry that is preceived of producing/selling an alleged "vice" does this.

                                                            1. The original comment has been removed
                                                              1. I just saw the ommercial on Discovery health and immediately came here knowing there would probably be a post. You can view the commercials here
                                                                http://www.sweetsurprise.com/index.ph...
                                                                The commercial certainly got my attention. It's funny that the two who hesitate to consume HFCS are featured as pretty tactless/clueless(You Don"t love me?, Wow, you don't care care what the kids eat, huh?). Like someone else mentioned, I am surprised it took the Corn Refiners Association this long to launch something like this.

                                                                10 Replies
                                                                1. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                  Wow. Wierd. The 'enemy' fighting back, eh?

                                                                  While I couldn't care less about HFCS or trans fat, it is interesting to see them barrage the stations with their message. I saw them on Lifetime.

                                                                  All the trans fats guys have to do is show Oreos 'before' and 'after'.

                                                                  I wish them luck.

                                                                  1. re: dolores

                                                                    You wish the trans fat guys luck? Curious as to why...

                                                                    1. re: mollyomormon

                                                                      Only slightly facetiously. I don't like government intervention in my life, whether it's to control those that have been deemed the 'bad' guys, or the 'good' guys.

                                                                      The 'bad' guys usually take 'advantage' of these opportunities to downsize, up price and otherwise also intrude on my life. The 'good' guys don't say a word (they've usually been bought off) and the customer is the loser.

                                                                      So, yes, I wish the trans fats guys good luck. Oreos were just fine with trans fats. Those worried about them should just eat less. Just think about what they'll replace the trans fats with....

                                                                      1. re: dolores

                                                                        Better that we have corporate intervention in government? As I wrote in my post below, the only reason we have HFCS is because of lobbying efforts in government. The intervention is there whether you like it or not. Although there is currently a worldwide sugar glut, U.S. prices are still more than double that of foreign sugar.

                                                                        I'm not saying sugar is better or worse than HFCS, but saying that "government intervention" is a bad thing on HFCS ignores how we got there in the first place.

                                                                  2. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                    ADM & Cargill get "folksy"? Corn Refiners Association??

                                                                    1. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                      The more I think about these commercials, the angrier I get.

                                                                      "You know what they say about [HFCS]?"
                                                                      "What"
                                                                      "Uh..."

                                                                      I just want to yell at the screen. "They say there's a direct correlation between the rise of obesity in the U.S. and the use of HFCS for sweetening beverages and foods! They say that increased consumption of fructose is associated with obesity and insulin resistance! They say that HFCS may cause liver damage in those who have a high fat diet and a sedentary lifestyle!!!"

                                                                      It makes me mad that this industry is attempting to subvert a legitimate scientific debate about the safety of its products by portraying those who are concerned about that issue as morons. Especially given that there's nobody who's going to pay for responsive advertisements.

                                                                      I normally don't go shooting off my mouth about things like HFCS, but these ads have me revisiting that position. From now on I may be the "I thought you loved me" guy.

                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                        Alanbarnes: I totally agree with your statement. I had seen in a Progressive Grocer newsletter that the Corn Growers Association was going to start an ad campain so I was glad to get the link to the commercials since I don't watch much tv.

                                                                        I had the same initial response, why did they make the disagreer look like such a "moron"? There are so many of us who do see HFCS as a terrible thing to be putting in our bodies so if nothing else I hope to see some comical responsive ads on YouTube.

                                                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                          I just gave my feedback on www.corn.org. Who knows who's listening, but if they get enough emails in negative response to their ads, maybe they'll rethink? Probably not...but at least it might make us feel better. : )

                                                                          1. re: abowe

                                                                            I keep thinking about the tobacco industry post-WWII - 1980s when I think about their propaganda. There's far too much money involved in this web for them to back off...

                                                                          2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                            alan I don't want to have a love in or anything and I know I have said it before but you just reminded me that you are without question my very favorite poster on chowhound.