Americans consumed less high-fructose corn syrup in 2011 than at any point since 1997, Bloomberg reported this week. The USDA estimates that the average American ate 131 calories worth of corn sweeteners a day this year, down 16 percent from 2007.
The decline follows several years of bad press for high-fructose corn syrup. Some have attacked it as bad-tasting, while many have argued that eating it is bad for your health. One recent study suggested that the brains of people who ate lots of fructose don't register as satiated, while another demonstrated a correlation between high-fructose corn syrup consumption and higher rates of type 2 diabetes.
The corn industry has responded to this PR onslaught by claiming that high-fructose corn syrup had been "unfairly maligned," and that it is no worse for human health than any other kind of sweetener. Some studies have supported this argument.
If the corn industry is right, the recent estimates on sweetener consumption contain some troubling news as well. Sugar consumption rose 8.8 percent between 2007 and 2011, indicating that some consumers just shifted from one type of sweetener to another.