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People just seem to love to hate stuff that tastes good these days. Sometimes there's a good reason for it of course, but sometimes I feel like, we're just, we're just giving ourselves a hard time.

When I was a kid for example, every kitchen I ever went into was full of fat-free stuff because everybody's mom had heard on some morning show that if you eat anything with fat in it you're going to turn into an overstuffed, walrus-shaped couch cushion. So we all just ate things like bagels slathered in margarine and sometimes I'd come home from school and eat a whole box of fat free cookies because they're fat-free, it doesn't matter how many you eat. Why do we even do this? How do you even make a cookie fat-free?


So now people are eating fatty things again and I mean, thank god. [EATS CORN DOG WITH SPRAY CAN CHEESE ON TOP] That wasn't good. At the moment though instead of fat the new Dark Lord of Nutrition is high-fructose corn syrup. And I checked, this no high fructose corn syrup in this corn dog. People despise it, we get so up in arms that food companies are now kicking it out of their products and replacing it with "all-natural sugar". To hear a lot of people tell it, HFCS - as people have started calling it to make it sound more "chemical-ly" - is the enemy of all things good and pure and the sole cause of the obesity epidemic.

Speaking of the obesity epidemic, I did a whole show on that, you show watch it. [MOTIONS TO LINK TO OBESITY VIDEO]

Anyway, you know, as they say on the internet, haters are gonna hate. (Do they say that on the internet or is that an urban slang thing?) But do the haters have a valid point? And we've been doing research on this and we're not quite sure actually.

 Basic Overview

So high fructose corn syrup is kind of a wonderful creation, really. It's extremely inexpensive, it's easy to transport, easy to mix into things, it's made food a lot cheaper. It's certainly made every calorie that we eat in America cheaper. This is of course all with the help of 40 billion dollars of subsidies to corn farmers. For all these reasons and more, the use of high fructose corn syrup has been skyrocketing since the 1970's and now if you're eating something sweet there's about a 50% chance that that sweetness is coming from high fructose corn syrup.

 Science of High Fructose Corn Syrup

That said, on the surface of things, sucrose, which we know as cane sugar or "all-natural sugar" or table sugar and high fructose corn syrup are basically the same thing. They're both plant-based sweeteners and on a molecular level, they're pretty similar. Both sugar and high fructose corn syrup are made out of glucose and fructose. Chemically, sucrose is just as glucose molecule and a fructose molecule bonded together, while high fructose corn syrup is just a mixture of glucose and fructose molecules without them being bound together.
But molecule for molecule, fructose actually tastes a lot sweeter to us and I should point out that fructose is called fructose because it's the kind of sugar that we generally find in fruits. So if high fructose corn syrup is basically just glucose, which is the most common sugar in the universe and fructose, which is the kind of stuff that you find in apple juice, how could it be that bad for you? What makes us so suspicious?


[TALKING WHILE GRAPH IS SHOWN] Well, we have this graph right here. Yeah that's the obesity rate in America going through the roof right about the same time that every single product in the grocery stores started getting enhanced with high fructose corn syrup. And that is a correlation, not a causation, but it is correlation worth investigating. 
For example, some recent studies on rats are beginning to show that high fructose corn syrup makes the rats waaaaaay fatter than if they just ate table sugar. And it's also raising levels of fat content in their blood. But there have been a lot of other studies that have shown no significant change depending on whether you're eating table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. 


One thing, however, is certain, that high fructose corn syrup is in a lot of what we're eating these days. It's making sweet food much less expensive and so the barrier to eating them is lower and it is very rewarding to have a nice, cold Coca-Cola. 

So there's a combination of economics, biochemistry, brain chemistry and in general, people eating sugar of all kinds, which probably isn't very good for us. And in the meantime: Does anybody want these? [HOLDING UP COOKIES] Because I bought them, and I don't want them.

For more information on high fructose corn syrup and what it means and what it doesn't mean, check out the description, we've got some more information in there. If you've got topics that you'd like us to discuss on SciShow, hook up with us on Facebook and Twitter and of course, in the comments below. We'll see you next time.