Healthwashing?

We've blogged about greenwashing, the (often disingenuous) work of large corporations to project an environmentally friendly image. Since I've started questioning the motivations behind advertisements I come across, I've realized how scary it is to wonder how many of these companies are telling the truth. Among the issues that people are most concerned about is the negative health impact from commercials and ads featuring candy, soda, sweet cereals, etc.
In June, the Corn Refiners Association began an 18-month, $20-30 million campaign to revive the reputation of sweeteners. According to an article in Grist.org, the industry is worried about losing its reign over kids, a key consumer demographic. The ads thus target the moms who control kids' food choices.

As this ad shows, high-fructose corn syrup--found in everything from soft drinks to ketchup--is supposedly "fine in moderation." This message is hard to believe, however, coming from a corporation that thrives when people binge on sweetened foods.

The quick story behind the rise of high-fructose corn syrup is that changes in government policy, pushed by the corn industry, led to the spike in domestic sugar prices and fall of corn prices in the 1980s and '90s. According to the article, corn sweetener consumption peaked in 1998 and has been dropping since, coinciding with an increasing concern over diabetes and obesity.

And while the industry may tout the safety in consuming high-fructose corn syrup, University of Florida researchers found that diets heavy in fructose may induce leptin resistance, which is a condition that can easily lead to obesity. Leptin is an important substance produced by the body that tells us when we're full and to stop eating. Although more research needs to be done, it is clear that the industry has cornered the sweetener market as people have become accustomed to a sweet diet.

Americans must learn to regain control over their health by playing an active role in deciding what they consume. Most importantly, we must get our kids used to a healthy diet free of empty calories. It's time to put down the Coke and drink some good ole' H2O (from the tap, of course).