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:
“So, I’m skeptical. I don’t think the study produces convincing evidence of a difference between the effects of HFCS and sucrose on the body weight of rats. I’m afraid I have to agree with the Corn Refiners on this one. So does HFCS make rats fat? Sure if you feed them too many calories altogether. Sucrose will do that too.” Marion Nestle, Ph.D., Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, New York University March 24, 2010, FoodPolitics.com
“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.