The Princeton Study – A Flawed Attempt to Link HFCS to Obesity and Weight Gain in Rats
You may have heard of the recent study, “A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain.” Sounds bad, doesn’t it? But, did the science live up to the headline or prove that HFCS leads to obesity? Not even close.
How the Study Evaluated High Fructose Corn Syrup and Obesity
In the study “High fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: Increased body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels,” the authors failed to put into perspective the excessive amount consumed by the rats in their experimental design. Translating the study’s reported rat intakes to human proportions, the calories gained from high fructose corn syrup would be equivalent to about 3,000 calories per day all from that single source. In comparison, adult humans consume about 2,000 calories per day from all dietary sources.
Moreover, the researchers concluded that the rats gained more weight from high fructose corn syrup than they would have from sugar, even though the researchers had no proper basis for drawing this conclusion. For example, they failed to provide sucrose controls for part of the study’s short-term experiments and no sucrose controls whatsoever were present in any of the long-term experiments.
Don’t take our word for it; listen to the experts who are not affiliated in any way with the Corn Refiners Association:
“The researchers concluded ‘over-consumption of HFCS could very well be a major factor in the ‘obesity epidemic,’ which correlates with the upsurge in the use of HFCS.’ It might be. But to my mind, these experiments hardly prove it.” Karen Kaplan, Science Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2010, Los Angeles Times blog Booster Shots
“This study is poorly designed and poorly controlled and does not prove or even suggest that HFCS is more likely to lead to obesity than sucrose [table sugar].” Karen Teff, Ph.D., Associate Director, Institute for Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine March 26, 2010, EatingWell.com
So remember, the next time you hear someone claim that HFCS is worse than other sweeteners or can’t be part of a balanced diet because of the findings of the “Princeton Study,” the science just doesn’t add up.