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The ad campaign says "your body can't tell the difference" between the two sweeteners.
A group of sugar producers are suing the Corn Refiners Association over advertising that claims high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and table sugar are the same, the Los Angeles Times reported.
A corn trade group applied to the government in 2010 to change the name of HFCS to "corn sugar," The New York Times reported. The application is still pending, but a leaked document to the Associated Press suggests the Food and Drug Administration does not look favorably on the corn industry's rebranding effort.
Meanwhile, the Corn Refiners Association has produced television commercials and a website that has a "Myths and Facts" section that takes on many of the claims against HCFS, including the one that it leads to increased rates of obesity and diabetes.
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The sugar allies say corn producers' ads "characterize high fructose corn syrup as a natural product. It is not — it is man-made," Adam Fox, an attorney for the sugar industry plaintiffs, told the Los Angeles Times.
The attorney for the corn industry, Dan K. Webb, said "It is wrong for the refined sugar industry to try to stifle this truthful speech."
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He blames overconsumption, not refined sugar products, for American's soaring rates of obesity.
US Department of Agriculture data indicates that Americans consume approximately 47 pounds of sugar and 35 pounds of HFCS per person per year, adding up to an average of 888 calories each day from sweeteners.
Research into how HFCS is metabolized by the body is "limited but consistent in indicating heightened risks from the liquid sweetener," according to Michael I. Goran, director of the Child Obesity Research Center at the University of Southern California. The New York Times said research into the negative effects of HFCS compared to table sugar are "inconclusive."