Sunday, August 17, 2008

Suspect in U.S. obesity epidemic - Op-Ed -

Suspect in U.S. obesity epidemic - Op-Ed -

Suspect in U.S. obesity epidemic
Shirley Caudill
Contributing columnist

More than 33 percent of adults in the United States are overweight or obese.

The incidence of obesity in children and adults has doubled in the last 10 years, but parents are at a loss as to the cause of this problem in their children.

New research has found evidence that soft drinks sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup may contribute to the development of diabetes and obesity, especially in children.

Scientists found that drinks with corn syrup have high levels of reactive compounds that have been shown to have the potential to trigger cell and tissue damage that could cause the disease, which is at epidemic levels. The findings were reported at the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society last August.

According to Meira Field of the U.S Department of Agriculture, most processed foods contain corn syrup. The sweetener is found in many foods and beverages, from soda, baked goods and condiments to so-called health foods. It has become manufacturers' sweetener of choice because it is cheaper, sweeter and more easily blended than granulated white sugar.

The food industry disputes the findings, but some researchers suggest that high fructose sweeteners increase the risk of obesity and diabetes. In a current study, a scientist conducted chemical tests on 11 different soft drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup, and he found ”astonishingly high“ levels of reactive carbonyls in those drinks.

Such high levels of these highly reactive compounds associated with ”unbound“ fructose and glucose molecules are believed to cause tissue damage, said Chi-Tang Ho, a professor of food science at Rutger's University.

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