Get access

Does consumption of high-fructose corn syrup beverages cause obesity in children?


Address for correspondence: Ms RE Morgan, 150 Main St. Franklin, NJ 07416, USA. E-mail:


What is already known about this subject

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) consumption in the form of beverages has increased among U.S. school-aged children.
  • HFCS is a common sweetener found in the U.S. food supply including fruit juices, soft drinks, and sport drinks.
  • Obesity exposes school-aged children to preventative health risks.

What this study adds

  • There is inconclusive scientific evidence to definitively link HFCS beverage consumption in school-aged children to obesity.
  • Consumption of HFCS beverages in children may displace consumption of milk.
  • Many entities contribute to childhood yet limitation of sweetened beverages may decrease obesity in children.

The consumption of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) beverages has increased since the 1970s. At the same time, childhood obesity is on the rise, causing children to be at risk of heart disease, diabetes and other diseases. Healthcare providers have attributed childhood obesity to the consumption of HFCS in the form of beverages. This article will look at the available research and determine if there is scientific evidence underlying the idea that sweetened soft drinks, especially those containing HFCS, could cause or contribute to childhood obesity. A thorough literature search was performed using the ISI Web of Sciences, PubMed and Scopus databases within the years 2006–2012. The search generated 19 results. The articles were screened, and six were deemed eligible: four systematic reviews and two meta-analyses. Two systematic reviews found that there is no relationship between consumption of HFCS beverages and obesity in children. The other two systematic reviews found possible links between HFCS and childhood obesity. The meta-analysis articles found that consumption of HFCS beverages can contribute to childhood obesity, and limitation of sweetened beverages may help decrease obesity in children. Available research studies demonstrate inconclusive scientific evidence definitively linking HFCS to obesity in children.