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While a growing number of politicians have singled out sweeteners as a primary source of obesity, a new study backs the scientific wisdom that caloric intake is the main cause of weight gain, regardless of where those calories come from.
Dr. James Rippe, an associate professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, conducted a 12-week weight loss study that found that whether people were given reduced-calorie diets containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or table sugar, they still lost about the same amount of weight.
Participants in the trial were randomly asked to eat packaged foods with either 10 percent of their total calories from high fructose corn syrup or sucrose (table sugar), or with 20 percent of their calories from these added sugars. After nearly three months, participants in all the groups lost an average of six to seven pounds.
The finding adds to previous ones showing that high fructose corn syrup doesn’t appear to have a demonic effect on people’s metabolisms.
“When it comes to weight loss,” said Rippe, “it’s about calories, how many you take in and how many you burn.”
He said he remains “unpersuaded at this point” that fad diets works any better than a more balanced diet at helping people shed extra pounds.
“We’ve become bigger because the average person is eating 525 extra calories a day than they were a few decades ago,” Rippe said. “Of those extra calories, 47 calories a day come from added sugars.” It would be wrong, he added, to point our finger at one segment of the diet -- like sugary soda -- and say that eliminating it would fix our weight problem.
The study included 247 overweight or obese subjects ages 25 to 60 who took part in the randomized, double blind trial. After 12 weeks on a hypocaloric (reduced calorie) diet, there was no evidence that either table sugar or HFCS prevented weight loss when the amount of overall calories was reduced.
The study, which was funded by the Corn Refiners Association, was published in Nutrition Journal.