Disparities In Actual Sugar Content Found In Popular Soft Drinks

Rebekah Eliason for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

A new study by the Childhood Obesity Research Center (CORC) at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California has discovered that soda drinkers are consuming much more sugar-fructose than soda labels imply.

In this study, the chemical composition of 34 popular soda and juice drinks made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) were analyzed. The researchers discovered that drinks such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Mountain Dew and Sprite are all composed of 50 percent more fructose than glucose. This ratio provides evidence disproving the claim that HFCS and sugar are in effect the same.

Michael Goran, PhD, director of the CORC and lead author of the study said, “We found what ends up being consumed in these beverages is neither natural sugar nor HFCS, but instead a fructose-intense concoction that could increase one’s risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease. The human body isn’t designed to process this form of sugar at such high levels. Unlike glucose, which serves as fuel for the body, fructose is processed almost entirely in the liver where it is converted to fat.”

A trade group representing HFCS producers, the Corn Refiners Association, has adamantly claimed that there is only a negligible difference between HFCS and natural sugar, sucrose, which is composed of equal amounts fructose and glucose. According to Goran’s recent beverage analysis, the drinks made with HFCS were comprised of a 60 to 40 fructose to glucose ratio. This is a much different ratio than is found in natural sugar, which challenges the industry’s claim that “sugar is sugar.”

Another disturbing discovery from the team revealed that the product labels on some drinks are not accurately disclosing the fructose content. For example, Pepsi Throwback is labeled as containing natural sugar, but the analysis by Goran’s team found that it contained more than 50 percent fructose. Other drinks such as Sierra Mist, Gatorade and Mexican Coca-Cola all contain higher fructose concentrations than implied by their labeling. These findings indicate that these drinks do not disclose the HFCS that is probably used in production.

In this study, the team purchased drinks for analysis based on the product popularity. Sugar composition for each beverage was analyzed in three different laboratories using three different methods. Across all the different methods, results consistently found that the average sugar composition of drinks containing HFCS was 60 percent fructose and 40 percent glucose.

Over the last three decades, Americans doubled their consumption of HFCS and consume more per capita of the sugary concoction than any other nation. In the same period of time, American diabetes rates have tripled. A great portion of this increase is attributed to the mass consumption of soda, sports drinks and energy drinks.

“Given that Americans drink 45 gallons of soda a year, it’s important for us to have a more accurate understanding of what we’re actually drinking, including specific label information on the types of sugars,” said Goran.

This study was published online in the journal Nutrition.

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