Why "HFCS-Free" Doesn't Mean Healthy

nestle june10 hfcs post.jpg

Photo by uzi978/Flickr CC

Thanks to Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, for alerting me to the current HFCS-free sales boom. HFCS, of course, is High Fructose Corn Syrup, the liquid sweetener made from corn (see previous posts). Food marketers have gotten the message that many people consider HFCS to be the new trans fat, even though it is not much different biologically from common table sugar (sucrose).

HFCS is replaced easily by sucrose, which used to be much more expensive. Now, because of the use of corn for ethanol, sucrose is only slightly more expensive than HFCS.

Click on the table to see the overall 13 percent growth in sales over the last year, with products like HFCS-free milk drinks, juices, salad dressings, and teas registering 1,500 percent to 16,000 percent increases. Like "trans fat-free," the term "HFCS-free" is a calorie distractor. It, too, will make you forget about the calories.

The irony is that white table sugar--formerly a leading target of "eat less" messages--suddenly has a health aura. Marketers have wasted no time moving in to use that aura to sell the same old products.

Presented by

Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Health

From This Author

Just In