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Corn Refiners Association’s high-fructose corn syrup ads a mixed success January 25, 2010

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In September 2008 the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) launched an 18-month campaign to rebuild the tattered image of high-fructose corn syrup. Several television ads have been created with what Time‘s Lisa McLaughlin has identified as a common message: “High-fructose corn syrup is made from corn, has no artificial ingredients, has the same calories as sugar and is okay to eat in moderation.” Despite the knee-jerk reaction that the message is ridiculous, McLaughlin said it contains some truth: “The American Medical Association recently announced at its annual policy-making meeting in Chicago that high-fructose corn syrup does not contribute more to obesity than sugar or other caloric sweeteners.”

Critics of the CRA’s ads assail the organization for its deceptive use of evidence. Sure, these critics argue, the ads are effective at encouraging people to ask questions about the negative attitudes toward high-fructose corn syrup, but they are also neglecting the fact that it is still just as bad for people as sugar. According to ABC’s Dan Childs: “Even if it is true that high fructose corn syrup is no worse than sugar, that means it still offers four calories per gram. This may not sound like a lot. But if the punch that mom is pouring in the televised ad is anything like one popular brand of fruit drink for which water and high fructose corn syrup are the two main ingredients, that eight-ounce glass she’s pouring for her kid contains about 120 calories. For kids 9 to 13 years old, the total amount of daily calories recommended by the American Heart Association tops out at between 1,600 and 1,800.”

To see why health experts link fructose to obesity, watch the following video:

To see a few of the CRA’s ads yourself, watch the following videos:

To see why many health experts are critical of the CRA’s ads, watch the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  To summarize, what are some of the realistic dangers of high-fructose corn syrup?

2.  Why do many people find the CRA’s ads to be deceptive?

3.  Despite these concerns, why are the CRA’s ads so effective?

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