A new study claims the North American Free Trade Agreement has drastically changed the Canadian diet by boosting consumption of high-fructose corn syrup. The peer-reviewed study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that as tariffs on high-fructose corn syrup dropped over a four-year period, consumption grew from 21.2 calories of corn syrup per day in 1994 to 62.9 calories-per-day by 1998.
The study linked the increase as a possible contributing factor to increasing obesity and diabetes rates over that time. The connection between free-trade agreements and health has not been well-studied, according to the study’s researchers, who say that to date, most research on globalization and nutrition has examined the effects of foreign direct investment: how consumption patterns change when multinational food companies, such as Coca-Cola, begin producing and advertising in new markets.
Former U.S. Department of Agriculture chief economist Joe Glauber told the Washington Post that: “This connection between trade and nutrition is getting to be a very big question,” while cautioning that the research is in its early days. High fructose corn syrup is commonly used as a sweetener in soft drinks.