2009 - 2010 Undergraduate Research in Nutrition and Food Science
Background: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is becoming one of the most commonly consumed sweeteners in the United States. It can be found in soft drinks, fast food, processed goods, and more. While a controversial topic, research has shown that HFCS consumption can contribute to weight gain.
Subjects/Setting: The relationship between weight gain and HFCS consumption was investigated in 248 undergraduate students at the University of Kentucky. The participants included 171 females (average age 20.5 ± 3.2 yrs) and 77 males (average age 20.8 ± 2.0 yrs) who each completed a survey regarding their soft drink and fast food consumption, exercise routines, height, weight, and age.
Results: The average current body mass index for females was 22. 7 ± 3.6 kg/m2, which is within the "normal" range for healthy adults. The average current BMI for males was 25.5 ± 4.7 kg/m2, which is within the "overweight" range for healthy adults. 26.6 % of students reported consuming regular soda, and 82.3 % of students reported consuming fast food on a regular basis. It was found that female students who regularly consumed regular soda and fast food had significantly higher BMI's. This relationship for fast food was approaching statistical significance in males (p= 0.06).
Conclusion: While HFCS consumption was shown in this sample to have positive effects on weight gain other lifestyle factors could also have contributed and were not specifically evaluated in this study. Overall, college students need to be better educated on what HFCS is and possible negative effects of consuming soft drinks, and fast food on a regular basis.