Ok, so a few comments to my last post made me write this one, mostly Scratch's comment where she said:
"Personally, I don't think there's much a difference in "badness". It's all bad if you drink TOO much of it."
I hate to say this, Scratch, but in this case, you're dead wrong…and here's why:
No matter what you eat, your muscles and organs run on one fuel source: Glycogen. That's what 'metabolizing' means, converting the sugars in your food (such as simple sugars, carbohydrates and starches) into a form your cells can use. That's why simple sugars give you a 'sugar high' followed by a crash, because your body can convert Glucose to Glycogen really easily which gives you a burst of energy, but it's used up quickly, which causes the crash. When you eat more complex sugars, it takes much longer to convert them, which gives you a slow release of energy, so there's no crash.
Now, your liver is the organ responsible for maintaining your blood sugar level. If your blood sugar gets low, it releases more sugar into your blood stream, and when your sugar gets high, it releases insulin which transfers the sugar into your cells.
That's what diabetes is. Your liver is slow to react (or just can't react) and doesn't release enough sugar when your blood sugar is low (causing hypoglycemia) and doesn't release enough insulin when your blood sugar is high (causing hyperglycemia).
Now, the really important part is your liver also functions as your body's 'gas gauge'. When its glycogen stores are full, it assumes the rest of your body's cells are full as well, so it releases a hormone that signals your cells to stop converting sugars to glycogen for immediate use and to convert them to triglycerides (fat) for storage for later.
Normally, this is just fine and works with most sugars, except that only your liver can metabolize fructose…and it can't metabolize very much before its glycogen stores are full.
So, normally, the majority of what you eat is converted to glycogen for immediate use and doesn't get stored as fat. If you drink a soda with high fructose corn syrup, your liver's glycogen stores get full extremely quickly, and it signals your body to start storing the rest of the sugars you've eaten as fat…even though your cells are nowhere near at their glycogen capacity.
In simplest terms, high fructose corn syrup signals your body to store the food you eat as fat, and the first place it stores that fat is in and around your liver…until eventually, not only are you overweight, your liver can't function properly.
Ok, it's easy to dismiss the science, but I think I'm living proof of just how bad this stuff is:
When I moved to the USA, I was in perfect health (I know because I had to have a full medical as part of my visa application), I didn't have diabetes and no-one in the entire history of my family ever had diabetes either.
When I moved, my diet remained the same and the only thing that really changed was, because of the heat here in the south, I started drinking much more soda, something I drank very little of in the UK. Three years later I wake up one morning almost completely blind and discover my blood sugar is almost 300 (100 is normal)…and I have diabetes.
I don't think it's coincidence either that America has the highest obesity rate in the world and has the third highest number of diabetics… and these have risen sharply since the 70's when cane sugar was replaced high fructose corn syrup.
The truth is sugar simply isn't as bad for you as high fructose corn syrup. Sugar is just a really 'high energy' food, whereas fructose is a really 'high energy' food with a chemical makeup that forces your body to store it, as well as the rest of the sugars you ingest with it, as fat…even worse, as fat in and around your liver.
Now, I'll be completely fair and say a couple of regular sodas a week won't do you a lot of harm, but most people don't drink a couple of sodas a week, they drink a couple a day.
Basically, if you want to stay healthy and especially if you want to lose weight, high fructose corn syrup should be avoided at all costs…even if only for the reason that a single 16oz soda can be as much as 300 calories…and because of the fructose, that's 300 calories that's definitely going to be stored as fat.