The sweet path to diabetes

The corn industry has spent millions on slick TV ads aimed at convincing you that the sugar substitute high-fructose corn syrup is the same as plain old sugar.

Well, they can try to change minds with the magic of marketing. They've even tried -- and failed -- to change the name of HFCS to corn sugar.

But no matter how much money they spend, they can't change the science -- and the science has shown time and again that HFCS causes faster weight gain and a higher risk of diabetes than ordinary sugar.

Now, that link is confirmed again by a new 40-nation study that finds a 20 percent higher rate of diabetes in countries where HFCS is widely used as a sugar substitute -- a link that held when calorie consumption and even total sugar consumption were the same.

Naturally, the corn industry is already using its marketing dollars to try to dismiss the new study and the link to diabetes. And if this was the only research of its kind, they might even get away with it.

But the fact is, studies on humans and animals alike have shown that HFCS is worse than sugar.

In 2008, for example, a study out of Texas found that HFCS is converted into fat in the body faster than regular sugar. And another study found that rats fed HFCS gained weight faster than rats fed the same number of calories in ordinary sugar.

And along with increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes, high-fructose corn syrup can increase the risk of kidney problems, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and other serious health conditions.

The secret to the link is the "HF" in HFCS -- the high fructose. The sugar substitute contains a little more fructose than regular sugar, and that little difference leads to big changes in how the body handles it.

There's an easy solution here -- and it's not switching to products that scream "NO HFCS!" or "MADE WITH REAL SUGAR!" on the label. Plain old sugar may be better than HFCS, but it's not good for you.

Reduce or eliminate your added sugar intake instead.

Along with helping you to avoid diabetes, decreasing the amount of sugar and sugar substitute you're eating can help you to lose weight and avoid other diseases, including heart disease. And if you need something to satisfy your sweet tooth, stick to fresh fruit and berries instead of sweetened treats and drinks.