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Focus on Fructose Misplaced

Focus on Fructose Misplaced
Moderation of All Calories and a Balanced Lifestyle Message Lost in Media Shuffle

November 11, 2010

CONTACT: Shannon McNamara
(202) 331-1634

WASHINGTON, DC – Media reports regarding a study by Hyon K. Choi, M.D., Ph.D., of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues presented at the American College of Rheumatology annual scientific meeting once again confuse fructose with high fructose corn syrup. 

The study analyzed dietary recall data from women and claimed to find evidence linking beverages containing fructose, such as orange juice, soda and other fruit juices, with the incidence of gout, an arthritis condition associated with increased uric acid levels. The authors did not single out any one source of fructose, but did exclude all other dietary sources of fructose, including honey, fruits, vegetables, maple syrup, and agave nectar.  Table sugar, or sucrose, is the leading source of fructose in the American diet. 

“Americans should not be confused by yet another study alleging that dietary sources of fructose are unsafe.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Fructose is commonly found in fruits and vegetables and is safe at normal consumption levels,” said Audrae Erickson, president, Corn Refiners Association.  “Americans deserve sound nutritional advice – not unfounded claims.  Moderate consumption of all calories as part of a balanced diet should remain the nutritional objective of all consumers.”

Despite its name, high fructose corn syrup is not “high” in fructose.  It is lower in fructose than many sweeteners derived from fruit sources like pear and apple juice concentrates.  Table sugar and high fructose corn syrup (corn sugar) both contain about 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose and are metabolized by the body the same way.  The American Medical Association confirmed the compositional equivalence of these two sweeteners and the American Dietetic Association affirmed their nutritional equivalence. 

“Studies that ask consumers to recall what they ate or drank, rather than measure the metabolic effects of specific foods and beverages consumed as part of a blinded, prospective study, are not particularly reliable.  This study also only reviewed one of the many simple sugars that Americans consume daily.  One would have to live in a laboratory, rather than the real world, to consume only fructose,” explained Erickson.

In evaluating the significance of this fructose study, it is also important to note that results were compiled by analyzing information gathered from a large group of women who completed a validated questionnaire of food and beverage intake.  Respondents were asked to recall what they consumed over annual periods of time, which is not a reliable method for proving cause and effect.  Moreover, such an analysis does not represent the highest level of evidence, which remains randomized, prospective, double blind trials. 

Finally, there are conflicting findings reported in the scientific literature; other more closely controlled studies have reached the opposite conclusion, finding that consumption of sugar or fructose from beverages at normal dietary levels does not cause elevated levels of uric acid associated with gout.  American consumers may needlessly worry if they start their day with a glass of orange juice or enjoy a carbonated soft drink. They should know that whether future better controlled studies prove or disprove these results, as the study’s authors point out, the risk of gout would be extremely low.

The Corn Refiners Association is committed to providing consumers with the facts about high fructose corn syrup and its role as part of a balanced diet.


The Corn Refiners Association 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.


Choi HK, Willett W, Curhan G. 2010. Fructose-Rich Beverages and Risk of Gout in Women. JAMA. 304(20):(doi: 10.1001/jama.2010.1638)

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