High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – a sweetener commonly found in biscuits, ice cream, cakes and soft drinks – may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, a new study has revealed.
The research, published in the journal Global Public Health, found that countries that use large amounts of HFCS in food manufacture have “significantly increased prevalence” of the disease than those with small consumption levels, independent of total sugar intake and obesity levels.
Of the 42 countries analysed, rates of type 2 diabetes were 20 per cent higher in high-consuming nations compared to low-consuming populations. The USA had by far the greatest consumption of HFCS, amounting to 25kg (55lb) per person per year.
By contrast, the UK was among the countries with the lowest consumptio, at less than 0.5kg (1lb) per head per year.
HFCS, which is often listed in ingredients sections as ‘glucose-fructose syrup’, is widely used in processed foods and soft drinks. Like table sugar, the syrup is a mixture of two simple sugars – fructose and glucose .
Tim Lobstei, of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, said if HFCS is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, the national dietary guidelines would need to be rewritten and agriculture trade polices would require a review.
“HFCS will join trans fats and salt as ingredients to avoid, and foods should carry warning labels,” he warned
However, a spokesman for the British Soft Drinks Association said the findings were not reliable as the research didn’t actually investigate the relationship between consumption of high fructose corn syrup and diabetes.
“Those studies that have looked at this relationship find that there isn’t one,” he added.

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