In recent years, few studies in food have been as contentious as those looking at the impact of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) on our health. The latest findings from a joint study coordinated by University of Southern California and Oxford University indicate that large amounts of the sweetener lead to an increased rate of Type 2 diabetes.

Michael Goran and his Oxford colleagues have found that those countries that use HFCS “have a 20 percent higher prevalence of diabetes on average than countries that do not use the sweetener.” The theory is that our bodies are not as capable of breaking down the syrup. Instead, our livers must store it as fat, leading to a greater possibility of developing a fatty liver, in turn bringing on insulin resistance and then diabetes.

Still, the debate over the negative effects of high fructose corn syrup is no closer to getting settled. Speaking up on behalf of the Corn Refiners Association, John White of White Technical Research points out inconsistencies in the analysis. For example, he points out that in terms of diabetes rate, Malaysia ranks 10 percent higher than the U.S., despite consuming 22 times less HFCS.

Soda is, of course, the biggest offender when it comes to using HFCS. Other foods where the sweetener can often be found include “nearly all processed foods, including cookies, rolls and other baked goods, cold cereals and even baby food.” HFCS is preferred by the food industry because it is the most cost-efficient ingredient.

[via Voice of America]