New York Times Quotes CPC Fellow Barry Popkin

Jul 3, 2006

Even the two scientists who first propagated the idea of a unique link between high-fructose corn syrup and America's soaring obesity rates have gently backed off from their initial theories. Barry M. Popkin, a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says that a widely read paper on the subject that he wrote in 2004 with George A. Bray, a professor of medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., was just meant to be a "suggestion" that would inspire further study.

"It was a theory meant to spur science, but it's quite possible that it may be found out not to be true," Professor Popkin said. "I don't think there should be a perception that high-fructose corn syrup has caused obesity until we know more."

Professor Popkin says that he and Professor Bray both decided not to raise the issue of high-fructose corn syrup for a beverage panel that they and four other scientists formed last year at the University of North Carolina. The panel was convened to provide clear guidelines to consumers about the nutritional risks and benefits of various beverages.

Rather than single out high-fructose corn syrup for derision, the panel focused on the proliferation of beverages with added sugars, regardless of what sweetener was used. Those beverages, the panel said, should be consumed at the lowest possible level, no more than eight ounces a day. "We felt there were much bigger issues and it would be a distraction," Professor Popkin said of high-fructose corn syrup.



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