The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) has disputed the findings of a recent study that suggested a link between added sugars in the diet – including high fructose corn syrup – and risk factors for heart disease.
The CRA, a trade association that represents the corn refining industry in the United States, said that the study , published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, should not alarm consumers.
Consultant to the food industry and cardiologist Dr. James Rippe said in a CRA statement: “This study shows very small differences in low normal lipid values for the metabolic measurements. There is not a shred of evidence that going from one low normal level to another low normal level increases risk factors for heart disease.”
The study’s authors, led by Kimber Stanhope of the University of California, Davis, said they aimed to account for the discrepancy between the American Heart Association (AHA) recommendation that people should get no more than 5% of their daily calories from added sugars, and the US Department of Agriculture’s recommended upper limit of 25%.
They set out to examine whether the 25 percent level could have a harmful effect on heart health and reported that consumption of three beverages sweetened with high fructose corn syrup per day over a two-week period, as part of an energy-balanced diet, increased risk factors for heart disease, including blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
However, Dr. Rippe said that the study sample of 48 adults was too small to be able to draw reliable conclusions, and also criticized the fact that it did not include sucrose – a factor that the study’s authors had also noted as a limitation.
He said: “This is a very short-term study using a small sampling, and confirming earlier research finding no clinically relevant changes to the measured parameters, all within normal levels. Consumers should not be alarmed by the claims made by these researchers.”
A communications manager for The Sugar Association also objected to the study, saying that there were several inconsistencies, and that the study focused on fructose, glucose, and high fructose corn syrup — not sucrose.