Apparently lacking better things to do, the Florida House of Representatives is considering a law that would ban high-fructose corn syrup from Florida public schools. Not only is this sweetener found in soft drinks, it is also used in granola bars, breakfast cereals, mustard, and on and on — all of which would be tossed. While Representative Juan C. Zapata may be floating this syrupy ban to fight childhood obesity, he needs to take another look at the so-called science against the sweetener.
As we note in our book An Epidemic of Obesity Myths, in 2004 researchers George Bray and Barry Popkin published a questionable study blaming high-fructose corn syrup for contributing to obesity in America. The finding was so contentious that even Center for Science in the Public Interest head Michael Jacobson derided it, telling the Associated Press that "the authors of this paper misunderstand chemistry, draw erroneous conclusions and have done a disservice to the public in generating this controversy."
Meanwhile, New York University professor Marion Nestle — no friend to food companies — said at the 2004 TIME Magazine/ABC Summit on Obesity that corn syrup is "basically no different from table sugar. Table sugar is glucose and fructose stuck together. Corn sweeteners are glucose and fructose separated. The body really can’t tell them apart."