I recommend this recent Grant McCracken post about Coca-Cola in the U.S. and Mexico. Grant asks if the reason more Americans are buying Mexican Coke (and Coca-Cola is trying to stop it) is about taste. Perhaps. But several of his commenters hit on the crucial distinction between the two formulations: Mexican Coke still uses cane sugar (sucrose), while U.S. Coke has switched to high-fructose corn syrup (fructose, from corn or beets, plus glucose). They do have different flavors.
But they also may have different metabolic effects, with high fructose corn syrup as a culprit for more effect on blood sugar, and possible contribution to obesity:
So what’s the big deal? Some experts believe our bodies treat high fructose corn syrup more like a fat than a sugar. They think it may even trigger metabolic changes — tricking us to eat more and store more fat.
Peter Havel, a nutrition researcher at the University of California, Davis, who has studied the metabolic effects of fructose, has found that several hormones involved in the regulation of body weight do not respond to fructose as they do to other types of sugars, such as glucose.
“Fructose doesn’t appear to signal the hormonal systems involved in the long-term regulation of food intake and energy metabolism,” he said.
Havel’s research shows that fructose does not stimulate insulin and leptin — two hormones that help turn down the appetite and control body weight. At the same time, fructose does not suppress our body’s production of ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger and appetite.
Other studies have shown that fructose kicks more fat into the bloodstream in the form of triglycerides, which may increase the risk of heart disease.
The debate picked up steam recently with the release of a new study in the July issue of Obesity Research that suggests fructose alters our metabolic rate in a way that favors fat storage.
This research did not use the fructose+glucose blend that is high fructose corn syrup, but it is still consistent with the hypothesis that high-fructose corn syrup and cane sugar have different metabolic effects in the body.
But none of this science sheds any light on why the Coca-Cola Company would seek to limit the import of Mexican Coke into the U.S. I can’t think of a good, logical reason without sinking into conspiracy theories, such as they have such a lucrative long-term contract with Archer-Daniels-Midland for HFCS that they will fight to keep up domestic demand in the U.S. But that’s not rational …