High-Fructose Corn Syrup and Diabetes

Q: I read that high-fructose corn syrup causes type 2 diabetes. How can I avoid eating it?

A: Consuming high-fructose corn syrup is not the sole factor for the cause of type 2 diabetes. (High-fructose corn syrup has a carbohydrate profile similar to that of white table sugar -- about 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose.) However, it is used to sweeten many prepared and commercial foods, and consuming too many foods with high-fructose corn syrup as well as other calorie-containing ingredients increases caloric intake and eventually causes weight gain in some people. It is the weight gain that leads to excess weight. It is excess weight along with other risk factors of type 2 diabetes that causes it.

To avoid consuming high-fructose corn syrup, check the ingredients to see whether a food contains it. Also check to see how far down on the ingredient list it is. Ingredients are listed in descending order by quantity used (by weight). High-fructose corn syrup is often used as a sweetener in:

  • regular soda

  • candy

  • frozen pops

  • pancake syrup

  • sweetened cereals

  • fruit-flavor yogurt

  • pasta sauces

  • ketchup

Jeannette Jordan, M.S., R.D., CDE, is the American Dietetic Association's national spokesperson for African-American nutrition issues and oversees nutrition education at the Medical University of South Carolina.