When scientists replaced sugars with complex carbohydrates and fruits in obese kids' diets, they saw dramatic drops in liver fat in only 10 days, even though the kids did not lose any weight. High amountsof liver fat increase risk for conditions like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Because of the chemical structure of fructose, it is much more likely to be turned into fat in the liver--BOTH regular cane sugar and high fructose corn syrup contain approximately 50% fructose. There is no convincing evidence that either type of sugar is better or worse than the other for health. There is evidence that replacing these sugars with starchy foods, especially whole grains, does improve health and reduce liver fat.
In a study we conducted at GW a few years back, nearly 40% of DC high school students surveyed indicated they would choose to drink soda, rather than water (n=405; unpublished).