These book-ends reflect the worst of "flavor-of-the-day" health and science journalism. In this brand of journalism, what you thought was unhealthy yesterday is always healthy today. And, for excitement and novelty, it will always be unhealthy again tomorrow.
The spin of the headline and opening grabber paragraphs ruins an otherwise competent article.
In the sensible body of the article, you will find that leading experts such as Barry Popkin and Walter Willett are very concerned about rapid increases in consumption of soda and other sweetened beverages in recent decades. These beverages rank with the switch from home cooking to fast-food diets and the adoption of sedentary lifestyles as leading causes of the obesity epidemic.
Much of the sugar in these beverages, and scattered throughout the rest of the food supply in places you would never expect, comes from high-fructose corn syrup.
In the sensible body of the article, you will find that this corn syrup should never be considered "natural." It comes from an industrial chemical process that cannot be reproduced in your kitchen.
But, the book-ends. Arrghh!
The headline is, "A sweetener with a bad rap."
The "spin" of the article is that high-fructose corn syrup may be no worse than cane sugar in promoting obesity. That may be true, but it is like saying "cop-killer" bullets have gotten a bad rap, because it turns out that officers have been dying from regular bullets for generations, so everything you have heard about ammunition sales is wrong.
High-fructose corn syrup contributes to obesity, and obesity is a serious health concern. If a different sweetener were mass-produced for the same products, then a different sweetener would be the problem. As it stands, without a doubt, the problem is high-fructose corn syrup.
In the opening paragraph, a perfectly reasonable shopper named Marie Cabrera checks food labels in the grocery store to find the hidden high-fructose corn syrup. The article wrongly implies that she is confused. In the closing paragraph, Cabrera changes her mind:
But now, after learning that many experts say the substance is handled no differently in the body than sugar, she says that she will probably let some products with high-fructose corn syrup slide. "I guess I don't need to be so hard-core about it," she said.It sounds like the reporter is telling everybody who will listen that experts consider high-fructose corn syrup to be harmless. It's not true, but Cabrera believed her. That's just tragic.