High-fructose corn syrup: is this what's for dinner?

Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Dec;88(6):1722S-1732S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.25825C.


Background: Research on trends in consumption of added sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in the United States has largely focused on calorically sweetened beverages and ignored other sources.

Objective: We aimed to examine US consumption of added sugar and HFCS to determine long-term trends in availability and intake from beverages and foods.

Design: We used 2 estimation techniques and data from the Nationwide Food Consumption Surveys (1965 and 1977), Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals (1989-1991), and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (1999-2000, 2001-2002, and 2003-2004) to examine trends in HFCS and added sugar both overall and within certain food and beverage groups.

Results: Availability and consumption of HFCS and added sugar increased over time until a slight decline between 2000 and 2004. By 2004, HFCS provided roughly 8% of total energy intake compared with total added sugar of 377 kcal x person(-1) x d(-1), accounting for 17% of total energy intake. Although food and beverage trends were similar, soft drinks and fruit drinks provided the most HFCS (158 and 40 kcal x person(-1) x d(-1) in 2004, respectively). Moreover, among the top 20% of individuals, 896 kcal x person(-1) x d(-1) of added sugar was consumed compared with 505 kcal x person(-1) x d(-1) of HFCS. Among consumers, sweetened tea and desserts also represented major contributors of calories from added sugar (>100 kcal x person(-1) x d(-1)).

Conclusion: Although increased intake of calories from HFCS is important to examine, the health effect of overall trends in added caloric sweeteners should not be overlooked.

MeSH terms

  • Beverages
  • Diet / trends*
  • Dietary Sucrose / administration & dosage
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Food Analysis
  • Food Supply / statistics & numerical data
  • Fructose / administration & dosage*
  • Fructose / adverse effects
  • Fructose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / chemically induced
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Sweetening Agents / adverse effects
  • Sweetening Agents / metabolism
  • United States


  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Fructose