Corn Syrup in Baby Formula
As you search through the baby formula options on the market, you might note that almost every available product contains corn syrup. While this ingredient seems innocuous enough, it’s incredibly dangerous to infants, toddlers, and even adults. Learn more about corn syrup, how to avoid it, and which alternatives are best for your growing baby.
Corn Syrup Is Bad News
Originally developed in the 1970s, corn syrup is a modified form of the natural sugars found in corn. Using an industrial process, however, it’s possible to increase the sugar content in corn, and the resulting substance is significantly cheaper than cane sugar or other natural sweeteners. Reduced cost is, however, the sole benefit of corn syrup; by every other metric, corn syrup is vastly inferior to other forms of sugar.
Nonetheless, corn syrup has insidiously snuck its way into almost every segment of the American food supply. The United States is the largest consumer of corn syrup, and it also has the highest levels of obesity, diabetes, and other sugar-related conditions. Coincidence?
Corn syrup goes by a wide variety of different names. In baby formula products, it’s common to find corn syrup listed as “corn syrup solids,” which appears to be a clever marketing ploy designed to make this substance sound less dangerous. In reality, there’s no nutritional difference between “corn syrup solids” and any other type of corn syrup, and whichever form this substance takes, it is not safe for your baby.
Risks of Corn Syrup in Baby Formula
While it’s reasonable for adults to consume corn syrup in small quantities, leading pediatricians are adamant that corn syrup has absolutely no place in infant nutrition. This substance is associated with a variety of risks that could significantly impact infant development:
It isn’t quite clear exactly why corn syrup consumption increases obesity rates so drastically. However, it appears that the body deals with corn syrup very differently than it deals with other types of sugar.
As sugar breaks down in your digestive system, your body generates signals that indicate satiety and reduce sugar cravings. When you consume cane sugar, for instance, your body naturally tells you to stop eating after a while. Not so with corn syrup; this substance doesn’t trigger any satiety signals, which means you can consume corn syrup forever without even once feeling that you’ve had enough.
Sugary drinks are the leading cause of obesity in America and around the world, and the presence of corn syrup in sodas and similar beverages is the main driver of this trend. Nevertheless, many popular baby formula products contain massive concentrations of corn syrup, and the only reason behind this widespread practice is to reduce costs and increase profits.
2. Obesity-Related Complications
Obesity is bad enough on its own, but being overweight can also increase your risk of other conditions. For instance, your chances of becoming diabetic increase in proportion to your weight, and obese people also are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
Under extreme circumstances, feeding babies formula products that contain corn syrup can lead to severe obesity, and in these cases, childhood diabetes often isn’t far behind. Like all the other choices you make for your baby during your little one’s first year of life, infant nutritional decisions can have long-lasting impacts, and feeding your baby formula with corn syrup during infancy can lead to diabetic symptoms that last for life.
3. Deformed Lifelong Tastes
Pediatricians and nutritionists agree: What you feed your infant will affect his or her food preferences for life. The goal of most infant nutrition programs is to develop healthy tastes that will cause your child to gravitate toward natural foods rather than processed junk. Feeding your baby formula with corn syrup, however, will train your child to seek out harmful processed sugars instead of fruits or vegetables.
In every conceivable way, feeding your baby corn syrup will have negative lifelong consequences. It would be one thing if the issues associated with feeding babies corn syrup dissipated as children grew, but it appears that the exact opposite is true. Poor nutrition during infancy increases your child’s risk of disease and illness throughout life, and corn syrup is one of the worst things you can feed to your little one.
Alternatives to Corn Syrup in Baby Formula
The designated purpose of corn syrup in baby formula is to replace the natural milk sugar lactose. Breast milk and animal milk both contain lactose, and in the concentrations that occur naturally, lactose in milk and formula is healthy. Corn syrup is cheaper to produce than lactose, however, which incentivizes formula producers to use this substance as both a sweetener and a filler.
The best alternative to corn syrup is natural lactose. At the same time, however, even lactose is dangerous if it is included in formula products at the levels in which corn syrup is commonly used. It’s critically important, therefore, for you to determine how much lactose is present in an infant formula product before you make a decision.
Why European Formula Is the Solution
In the United States, USDA organic standards are supposed to protect consumers from dangerous substances in the food supply. These standards are, however, notoriously lax, and American formula producers can use a variety of loopholes to include dangerous substances like corn syrup in organic formula products.
In the EU, however, corn syrup is recognized as the agent of destruction that it is, and this ingredient is not allowed in organic formula products. Therefore, baby formula products with the EU organic seal of approval will not contain corn syrup, which means that parents can rest easy when they choose to feed their babies formula products from brands like HiPP, Lebenswert, or Holle. If you take your child’s health seriously, avoid corn syrup at all costs, and choose European organic formula instead!
- Jennifer Akiyama