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Fairfax Schools Chocolate Milk Sweetener


Replacing high fructose corn syrup with sugar makes no nutritional difference

April 7, 2011

CONTACT: David Knowles
(202) 331-1634

WASHINGTON, DC – The April 1 announcement by Fairfax County Public Schools for the return of chocolate milk to elementary schools may mislead parents and students about sweeteners. The decision to once again offer chocolate milk to students is commendable. However, it is unfortunate that the district chose to deprive students of chocolate milk for eight months in order to remove high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and replace it with sugar. The two sweeteners have the same calories and are handled by the body the same way.

“Replacing sugar from corn with sugar from cane or beets does not improve the nutritional value of chocolate milk,” said James Rippe, M.D., Cardiologist and Biomedical Sciences Professor, University of Central Florida. “Milk provides essential nutrients, and children drink more of it when flavored milk is available to them. There is no legitimate nutritional reason for why it was not available to Fairfax County students for most of this school year.”

Credible organizations have supported the fact that the body cannot tell the difference between high fructose corn syrup and sugar. The American Dietetic Association stated that “high fructose corn syrup … is nutritionally equivalent to sucrose. Once absorbed into the blood stream, the two sweeteners are indistinguishable.”1 The American Medical Association stated that “Because the composition of HFCS and sucrose are so similar, particularly on absorption by the body, it appears unlikely that HFCS contributes more to obesity or other conditions than sucrose.”2

Furthermore, data presented by Dr. Rippe at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in June 2010 shows no difference between table sugar and high fructose corn syrup on weight gain or any changes in risk factors for metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. Flavored milk sweetened with table sugar or alternatively high fructose corn syrup was consumed by the subjects in both studies with no differences found.3

Respected national organizations representing the medical and nutrition communities have acknowledged that:

“To pretend that a product sweetened with sugar is healthier than a product sweetened by high-fructose corn syrup is totally misguided.”
Michael Jacobson, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Science in the Public Interest (Associated Press, September 10, 2008)

“Banishing high-fructose corn syrup is ‘a waste of time and money’ – better to limit children’s total sugar intake.”
Margo Wootan, Nutrition Policy Director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (USA Today, “Healthy, organic and cheap school lunches? Order up.” December 1, 2009)

“This is a marketing issue, not a metabolic issue… The real issue is not high fructose corn syrup. It’s that we’ve forgotten what a real serving size is. We have to eat less of everything.”
David Klurfeld, Ph.D., Human Nutrition National Program Leader, Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture (Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting, June 8, 2009)

“High fructose corn syrup is one of the most misunderstood products in the food supply.”
David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School (NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, April 22, 2009)

“High fructose corn syrup is just another form of sugar, no better, no worse.”
Keith Thomas Ayoob, Ed.D., R.D., F.A.D.A., Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

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The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) is the national trade association representing the corn refining (wet milling) industry of the United States. CRA and its predecessors have served this important segment of American agribusiness since 1913. Corn refiners manufacture sweeteners, ethanol, starch, bioproducts, corn oil, and feed products from corn components such as starch, oil, protein, and fiber.

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[1] American Dietetic Association. Hot Topics, “High Fructose Corn Syrup.” December 2008.

[2] American Medical Association. Report 3 of the Council on Science and Public Health a-08. June 2008.

[3] Lowndes J, et al., There Is No Difference between Sucrose and High Fructose Corn Syrup in Their Propensity To Increase Weight or Induce Insulin Resistance, Presented at the June 2010 meeting of The Endocrine Society, Program Abstract #P1-495

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