High-fructose corn syrup myths

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Whether your children pack or buy school lunch, do not overlook the beverage portion of their meals. Chocolate and other flavored milks are an increasingly popular option for kids, but some parents, school administrators and teachers may object to this choice because of the added sugars. They seem to be particularly concerned about the varieties that contain high-fructose corn syrup. Yet, nutritionists say flavored milk can be a secret weapon to help kids drink more milk and get the calcium and protein their growing bodies need. Most flavored milks contain only about 60 calories more per serving compared to unflavored milk, and the high-fructose corn syrup in moderation should not be a concern. Basically, the additional calories are OK when you consider all the extra nutrients milk provides. Myth: High-fructose corn syrup is a type of "supercharged" sugar. Fact: This corn sweetener is nutritionally the same as table sugar or sucrose, which comes from sugarcane or beets. High-fructose corn syrup is not sweeter than sugar, it's not higher in calories and it's not metabolized differently.

Myth: There is something unique about high-fructose corn syrup that is to blame for obesity. Fact: Our country's weight problem is due to excessive calorie intake and inactivity, not a single ingredient in our food supply. Experts say there's no one reason why we've seen the escalating rates of childhood obesity - it all comes down to calorie balance. Kids are eating too many calories and not burning off those calories by being active. It's also important to consider that if a child is encouraged to be more physically active, the energy in the flavored milk is used in the same way other carbohydrates are used-to fuel the activity. Myth: High-fructose corn syrup is a thick and gooey synthetic ingredient. Fact: This corn sweetener is actually thin and clear. High-fructose corn syrup is made from cornstarch and contains no artificial ingredients or synthetic substances. It's a reality that kids are going to have some sugar in their diets, whether that's table sugar, honey, pancake syrup or high-fructose corn syrup. Parents should just be sure the majority of the added sugars their children consume are from a nutrient-rich food or beverage, and practice moderation with concentrated sweets like candy and desserts.