Fat Chance

Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease
by Robert Lustig | 336 pages

Robert Lustig is a Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology and a member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at University of California, San Francisco. He has authored 120 peer-reviewed articles and 70 reviews and is a leading voice on childhood obesity. And, his YouTube video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” has been viewed over 7 million times. Obesity is a global pandemic. It’s astonishing how rapidly it’s expanding. And it’s COMPLETELY preventable. Lustig has dedicated his career to helping us understand the causes and how to “beat the odds against sugar, processed food, obesity and disease.” Big Ideas we explore include: Meeting the Darth Vader of the Food Empire (“Hi, sugar!”), two hormones driving the show (insulin + leptin), which fat you need to worry about most (big belly vs. big butt fat!), why so many diets work (reduced sugar + fiber), exercise (best ROI in medicine) and voting with ever dollar we *don’t* spend.


“All the major U.S. governmental health agencies, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Surgeon General, say that obesity results from an energy imbalance: eating too many calories and not getting enough physical activity. And they are right—to a point. Are we eating more? Of course. Are we exercising less? No doubt. Despite knowing this, it hasn’t made any difference in the rates of obesity or associated diseases. More to the point, how did this epidemic happen and in such a short interval of just thirty years? People say, ‘The food is there,’ and it is. But it was there before. People say, ‘The TV is there,’ and it is. But it was there before, and we didn’t have this caloric catastrophe. There’s more to this story, way more, and it’s not pretty.

Everyone blames everyone else for what has happened. No way is it their fault. Big food says it’s a lack of activity due to computers and video games. The TV industry says it’s our junk food diet. The Atkins people say it’s too many carbohydrates; the Ornish people say it’s too much fat. The juice people say it’s the soda; the soda people say it’s the juice. The schools say it’s the parents; the parents say it’s the schools. And since nothing is for sure, nothing is done. How do we reconcile all these opinions into a cohesive whole that actually makes sense and creates changes for the better for each individual and for all society? That’s what this book is about.”

~ Robert H. Lustig from Fat Chance

Robert Lustig is a Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology and a member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at University of California, San Francisco. He has authored 120 peer-reviewed articles and 70 reviews and is a leading voice on childhood obesity.

And, his YouTube video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” has been viewed over 7 million times.

He’s a colleague of Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel, who wrote The Telomere Effect. I got this book after they unequivocally agreed with his metabolic theory and the fact that not all calories are alike in their effects on the human body. (Hint: Sugar calories are the worst.)

Our last Note was on Gary Taubes’s The Case Against Sugar. He says this about Lustig: “No scientist has done more in the last fifty years to alert Americans to the potential dangers of sugar in the diet than Dr. Robert Lustig.”

We’re spending so much energy on these books/this topic because it matters. Obesity is a global pandemic. It’s astonishing how rapidly it’s expanding. And it’s COMPLETELY preventable.

The solution isn’t to eat less and exercise more per se, although that’s obviously part of the solution. The most powerful, simple step we can take? Reduce your sugar intake. Throw out the sugary drinks and refined carbs (/carbage!) they come packaged in and reclaim your health.

This book is a comprehensive look at how to, as the sub-title suggests, “beat the odds against sugar, processed food, obesity, and disease.” (Get a copy here.)

Of course, it’s packed with Big Ideas. And, as always, I’m excited to share a few of my favorites we can apply to our lives *today* so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author

Authors

Robert Lustig

Physician, Author of Fat Chance, Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains