Maureen Storey talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's Fast Moving Front in the field of Agricultural
Article: A critical examination of the evidence
relating high fructose corn syrup and weight
Authors: Forshee, RA;Storey, ML;Allison, DB;Glinsmann,
WH;Hein, GL;Lineback, DR;Miller, SA;Nicklas, TA;Weaver,
Journal: CRIT REV FOOD SCI NUTR, 47 (6): 561-582 2007
Univ Maryland, Ctr Food Nutr & Agr Policy, 1122
Patapsco Bldg, College Pk, MD 20742 USA.
Univ Maryland, Ctr Food Nutr &; Agr Policy, College Pk,
MD 20742 USA.
Note: "My comments are mine alone and may not necessarily reflect the
views of the American Beverage Association or its members," Maureen
Why do you think your paper is highly cited? Does it describe a new
discovery, methodology, or synthesis of knowledge?
Our paper was very timely and it addressed a controversy in the scientific
community. We brought together a group of highly respected experts to
consider the major arguments being put forward about high-fructose corn
syrup (HFCS) and its relationship with obesity and the evidence that
supported or refuted the arguments in a clear and comprehensive manner.
The diagrammatic representation of the arguments may be a new approach to
visualizing the logic stream.
Would you summarize the significance of your paper in layman's
Our paper carefully examined several theories about HFCS, a common
sweetener in the food supply that had been hypothesized to be a major cause
of obesity. The careful analysis by the expert panel dispelled many of the
urban myths that had grown out of proposed theories. Our paper and a few
others were instrumental in forming the current consensus that HFCS and
sucrose are metabolically equivalent; and I believe, there is now need for
such an analysis on fructose.
How did you become involved in this research and were any
particular problems encountered along the way?
"I hope that our research helps dispel
the urban myths that have gained momentum about
high-fructose corn syrup."
My colleagues and I had been conducting secondary analyses of government
data on food consumption for several years, and our academic group was
known for convening workshops that examined controversial issues in food
and nutrition policy. Our group, therefore, was approached to examine the
issues surrounding HFCS by the sweetener industry.
Where do you see your research leading in the future?
Although I am no longer in academia, I think it is important to continue
conducting research and supporting research of others on diet, physical
activity, health, and wellness. The food industry has the responsibility to
conduct research that helps in the understanding of the "who, what, where,
why, and how" of people's food and beverage choices.
In my opinion, it is critical that scientists—whether in academia or
industry—engage in the enterprise of science that includes
presentation and peer-reviewed publication of research. Only through an
honest discourse of scientific questioning, research, and debate will we
harness the complexities of our food supply and provide people with
good-tasting, affordable foods and beverages that provide choices for
people at every stage of life.
Do you foresee any social or political implications for your
That's a tough, but important question. At a minimum, I hope that our
research helps dispel the urban myths that have gained momentum about HFCS.
Politically, I see a more troubling picture for the scientific enterprise
as a whole, and one that reaches far beyond the controversy about HFCS.
What I mean by that is the facile dismissal or scarlet-letter-branding of
research that is conducted or supported, in part or in whole, by industry.
Though such dismissal or branding is often conducted under the banner of
such good sounding phrases like "integrity in science," as Dr. Kenneth
Rothman, the founding editor of Epidemiology has pointed out, such
"J'accuse-like" innuendo is simply a thinly veiled ad hominem
attack carrying an implicit and unfounded presumption of inferiority or
dishonesty in industry-supported research that borders on a modern form of
McCarthyism. Such statements are antithetical to the essence of science and
ones that we as scientists in academia and industry or society, in general,
can ill afford.
Maureen Storey, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President, Science Policy
American Beverage Association
Washington, D.C., USA
KEYWORDS: SOFT DRINK CONSUMPTION; BODY-MASS INDEX;
BEVERAGE CONSUMPTION; PHYSICAL-ACTIVITY; UNITED-STATES; ENERGY-INTAKE;
FOOD-INTAKE; WAIST CIRCUMFERENCE; PRESCHOOL-CHILDREN; CHILDHOOD