There's a huge uproar over news that Coca-Cola in Latin America will start making the beverage with a new sweetener, but there's nothing sweet about the new change. The executives of Coca-Cola in Latin America have decide to opt out of using cane sugar for the beverage and use high-fructose corn syrup instead, in an effort to keep costs low for Mexican consumers after the government implemented a soda tax on carbonated beverages. The soda tax--which will cost one peso (or $0.08, at 13 pesos to the dollar) per liter of soda sales--was imposed to curb soda consumption by the people of Mexico, as a 2013 UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report found that Mexico is the fattest nation in the world and soda just may be the culprit. Consider this: In certain parts of Mexico, locals have more access to soda than clean water, Mexicans spend $14.3 billion on soft drinks annually, and Mexicans are the largest consumer of carbonated beverages around the world at 163 liters of soda consumed per person each year.

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Coca-Cola released a statement confirming that the Mexican Coca-Cola in Mexico will be made using different ingredients, but the products that ship to the United States, in the form of "Coca-Cola Nostalgia" bottles,

will stay the same. While this is good news for foodies and  American fans of the beverage, this is not good news for Mexicans. In fact, keeping in mind that the soda tax was created to curb obesity, the change in ingredients will actually prove counterproductive in the effort to battle obesity as high-fructose corn syrup is a controversial sweetener that has been linked to obesity. And given that 32.9 percent of the adults in Mexico are obese, this will only exacerbate the problem.

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"Fructose, a sugar found in high-fructose corn syrup is directly metabolized by the liver, rather than activating our normal hormonal controls of sugar in the body such as insulin," explains Lucy Stephens, a nutritionist, herbalist and clinical psychonueroimmunologist, to Latin Times. "The byproducts of fructose metabolism are uric acid (high levels of which can lead to gout) and triglyceride levels." Stephens adds: "Studies also show that consumption of drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup increase waist and hip circumferences, body fat, and body mass index. Evolution shows us that our only sources of sugar as we evolved were fruits or honey and those only when in season. Our metabolism is not designed to cope with the amount of sugar that we put in it in today's environment and high-fructose corn syrup contributes to this."

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Why is it so bad? According to therapist and health/wellness expert Jenny Giblin, it all comes down to the molecular structure of the two sweeteners and how our body processes them. "The molecular structure of HFCS differs from that if sugar--it is made up of unnaturally high levels of fructose which gets converted into fat," explains Giblin to Latin Times. "This difference in its biochemistry makes it cause considerably more weight gain than sugar. HFCS has also been found to contain contaminants like mercury, and this is not regulated by the FDA. Most corn ingredients (including HFCS) are genetically modified (GMOs). When genes are tampered with in foods, it can create unintended and unknown side effects including an increase in toxins, good allergies, inflammation and digestive issues, linked to cancer etc."

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Many have pointed out that Mexican Coca-Cola has always used high-fructose corn syrup and this change would just be changing the ratio, but there's more to the picture since in the end, the company will be opting for a processed sweetener. "It is a shame that Mexico is switching its formula for making Coca-Cola with sugar to high fructose corn syrup," said Ilana Muhlstein, R.D., to Latin Times. "While sugar in excessive quantities such as in coca-cola is not healthy, it is still less processed, artificial and harmful than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This highly-processed sweetener is made by taking (typically genetically modified) corn starch and converting it into syrup via acid hydrolysis. It is then further processed to be super saturated with fructose and extremely sweet."

Coca-Cola Image via Tyler McKay/Shutterstock.com.