Scientists: High-Fructose Corn Syrup as Addictive as Cocaine

Are You a Sugar Addict?

From the Daily Mail:

Are you a sugar addict? Scientists say high fructose corn syrup is as addictive as cocaine – but you may not even know you’re eating it

  • A new study by Canadian researchers has found that high-fructose corn syrup can cause reactions similar to those to cocaine
  • The study measured rats’ reactions to higher and higher levels of high-fructose corn syrup
  • The study suggests that high-fructose corn syrup could explain the current obesity epidemic

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 21:23 EST, 7 June 2013 | UPDATED: 21:24 EST, 7 June 2013

Canadian researchers have found that high-fructose corn syrup can cause behavioral reactions in rats ‘similar to those produced by drugs of abuse, such as cocaine’.

Professor Francesco Leri of the University of Guelph, who carried out the research, said it suggested there was an addictive quality to foods that contain high levels of high-fructose corn syrup which could explain, at least partly, the current global obesity epidemic.

During the experiment, rats were fed foods containing varying levels of high-fructose corn syrup. They were then given access to a lever which controlled how much syrup they received. The more concentrated the syrup, the harder the rats worked to obtain it.

Sweet temptation: New research has found that high-fructose corn syrup has similar effects on the brain as addictive drugs like cocaineSweet temptation: New research has found that high-fructose corn syrup has similar effects on the brain as addictive drugs like cocaine

‘We have evidence in laboratory animals of a shared vulnerability to develop preferences for sweet foods and for cocaine,’ said Professor Leri, an addiction expert.

‘There is now convincing neurobiological and behavioural evidence indicating that addiction to food is possible.’

Professor Leri believes vulnerability to addiction could explain why some people are obese and some aren’t, despite the widespread availability of high-fructose corn syrup.

Ubiquitous: Corn products can be found in every element of a fast food meal, and high-fructose corn syrup is one of the main ingredients in everything from burger buns to soft drinksUbiquitous: Corn products can be found in every element of a fast food meal, and high-fructose corn syrup is one of the main ingredients in everything from burger buns and sauces to soft drinks

The new findings are part of a growing field of investigation into the effects of high fructose corn syrup, which has been blamed for everything from the obesity epidemic to diabetes and liver disease.

Research from Princeton University in 2010 found that rats fed on a sugary diet became nervous and anxious when the sugar was removed. They were thrown into a state of anxiety similar to the kind of stress that people feel during withdrawal from drugs like nicotine and even morphine.

Professor Bart Hoebel and his team in the Department of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute have been studying signs of sugar addiction in rats for years.

Fat rats: Recent research shows that high-fructose corn syrup is highly addictive to ratsFat rats: Recent research shows that high-fructose corn syrup is highly addictive to rats

‘If bingeing on sugar is really a form of addiction, there should be long-lasting effects in the brains of sugar addicts,’ Hoebel said.

‘Craving and relapse are critical components of addiction, and we have been able to demonstrate these behaviors in sugar-bingeing rats in a number of ways.’

The process: The USDA says that processed foods are the main source sugar in our diets - but that many food producers are reluctant to reveal just how much high fructose corn syrup their products containThe process: The USDA says that processed foods are the main source sugar in our diets – but that many food producers are reluctant to reveal just how much high-fructose corn syrup their products contain

Journalist and author Michael Pollan says that cheap industrial corn is such a huge crop in America that you’re likely to find it in every section of the supermarket, not to mention every item in a fast food meal.

‘Corn is the sweetener in the soda. It’s in the corn-fed beef Big Mac patty, and in the high-fructose syrup in the bun, and in the secret sauce,’ wrote Pollan in the New York Times Magazine.

High fructose corn syrup was discovered in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until the ’70s that it became widely used.

Excess: The U.S. government subsidizes corn farms - meaning there's huge quantities of excess corn being produced which is used for everything from cattle feed to ethanol to the addictive high-fructose corn syrupExcess: The U.S. government subsidizes corn farms – meaning there’s huge quantities of excess corn being produced which is used for everything from cattle feed to ethanol to the addictive high-fructose corn syrup

The gloopy syrup is made from surplus corn crops, and can be found in sweet foods such as donuts, chocolate bars and soda.

The danger lies in the places you don’t expect to find it: loaves of bread, pizza, meat, savory snacks and salad dressing.

Former head of the FDA David Kessler believes that sugar is extremely addictive, just like cigarettes or alcohol. He told the Guardian in 2012 that eating sugar it is ‘highly pleasurable. It gives you this momentary bliss. When you’re eating food that is highly hedonic, it sort of takes over your brain.’

SUPERMARKET FOOD CONTAINING HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP

We all know that sweet confectionery and soft drinks are full of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), but could we be feeding our addictions with other foods and not knowing it? Here are some unexpected supermarket products that are full of high fructose corn syrup.

  • Bread – Many supermarket bread brands list HFCS as an ingredient – even the ones that aren’t supposed to be sweet. In addition to sweetness, HFCS can seriously extend the shelf life of supermarket products
    Daily bread: You could be inadvertently eating high-fructose corn syrup in your lunchtime sandwich - many supermarket bread brands contain the syrup, which helps to extend shelf lifeDaily bread: You could be inadvertently eating high-fructose corn syrup in your lunchtime sandwich
  • Mayonnaise – Orr Brothers Wasabi Mayonnaise and Garlic Mayonnaise both contain HFCS
  • Salad dressing –  HFCS is the main ingredient in many supermarket dressings
  • Tinned tuna – Starkist Tuna Lunch To Go contains HFCS as well as corn syrup
  • Canned fruit and vegetables – Check the label on canned fruit – the sweet syrup is often based on HFCS, and even some savory canned products like baked beans contain the sweetener
  • Crackers – Many brands of salty crackers contain HFCS, especially varieties of saltine, wheat crackers and
  • Cereal – A lot of major cereal brands are majorly high in sugar – even the healthy-sounding ones such as Special K
  • Ketchup – Heinz Ketchup contains corn syrup as well as HFCS
  • Mac and Cheese – Corn syrup solids are the second ingredient in the cheese sauce in Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Easy Mac
  • Soup – Campbell’s Condensed Vegetable Soup lists HFCS as an ingredient
  • Yogurt – Brands such as Danon and Yoplait list  HFCS high up on their ingredients list on many flavored yogurts, including low-fat products