The Price of Corn and Obesity

The portions of food that Americans eat have grown at a disturbing rate over the last twenty years. And to parallel the growth in portions, the size of the Americans eating those portions has increased as well. Obesity has clearly become one of the most prevalent health conditions affecting the population. At most fast food restaurants, consumers have the option to increase the size (or supersize) their order for only a small fee. The inexpensiveness of large portions of unhealthy food has had a significant role in the obesity epidemic that is striking America. Increased substitution of sugar additives for cheaper corn based products has been linked to the rise in obesity.
The ease with which corn is produced and the natural properties of corn that allow it to grow readily in North America has caused corn to become the staple crop of the United States. Not only does corn cover most of the Midwest but there is so much of a surplus that it has become part of almost every food in a supermarket (Pollan 23-26). Corn producers will alter the corn so it can suit every need possible. Corn can be made into a pesticide or fed to cows or even made into wax and magazines shine (Pollan 15-17). But the main way corn has become heavily involved in our diet is the substitution of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) for sugar.
Because of the surplus of corn, High Fructose Corn Syrup is a cheap and available sweetener that is currently used in a vast majority of food products. In his book The Omnivores Dilemma, Michael Pollan states, “since 1977 an American’s average daily intake of calories has jumped by more than 10%” (Pollan 102). At face value it seems as though we can make a direct link between the rise in HFCS production and the increased calorie intake and blame the weight gain solely on the unhealthiness of HFCS. But this is not completely true as HFCS is not that much unhealthier than sugar. In fact a Time CNN article states that, “The American Medical Association recently...