The Associated Press reports that between 2003 and 2008, the use of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) dropped by 11 percent. HFCS producers blame it on those that claim that the sweetener is a major contributing factor in the increase of obesity and other health problems.

Because HFCS has become thought of as less healthy than sugar, many manufacturers have traded HFCS for sugar or “pure cane sugar” in their processed foods, and now market the foods as healthier because they contain “real sugar.” During the same time period when HFCS sales declined by 11 percent, refined sugar sales went up by 7 percent.

What are the HFCS producers doing about their decrease in sales? They are upping the amount they sell in other countries, like Mexico. Since HFCS is a derivative of corn, I can imagine they will also try to turn the corn that would have been used for HFCS into other corn derived products like more filler for the chicken nuggets that are served in our schools. And, so long as the major soft drink manufacturers continue to use the sweetener in their beverages, the market for HFCS is not in danger of collapsing.

I’m in the camp that is very leery of HFCS. I have stopped buying many foods that contain it, and when I treat my children to soda, it’s often one made with sugar, not HFCS. It’s not always easy, and while I’ve cut some of the sugar out of my family’s diet, I certainly haven’t cut as much as I’d like.

It would be easy to get excited about the decline in sales of HFCS and claim victory for our country’s health, but it’s too soon for that. Sure, it’s great that people are beginning to consider the types of sweeteners used in their foods. But, it seems as if we’re not seeing a drastic reduction in the use of sweeteners in general, and that’s an important step to fighting the obesity and other health problems our food consumption is creating.

I have a question for you. If you have ditched the high fructose corn syrup (or the majority of it) in your home, have you also made an effort to reduce the amount of sugar in general? 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

HFCS sales down but sweetener sales remain stable
Fewer manufacturers are using high fructose corn syrup in their products, but they aren’t making them less sweet.