Remembering Kevin Moore

Brand New Video Lecture From Dr. Robert Lustig On ‘Interventions To Reduce Sugar Consumption’

On July 30, 2009, if you were one of the few people who attended an unassuming lecture series from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) called the “Mini Medical School for the Public,” you probably would have never even heard of a professor of pediatrics there named Robert H. Lustig, MD. But through the power of the Internet, Dr. Lustig’s amazing 90-minute talk entitled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” went viral and has garnered over 1.5 million views (a staggering number for any video–much less one this long!) after being posted to YouTube. Thanks to the embracement of the low-carb and Paleo community to the central message that excessive fructose is at the root cause of much of the obesity and chronic health concerns in America today, Dr. Lustig is now a well-known figure in the diet debate with frequent media appearances resulting from this lecture he gave. You’ve probably already seen “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” posted on Twitter, Facebook and other blogs and web sites dedicated to getting this much-needed message out to those sugar-addicted masses who need to heed the warnings Dr. Lustig shared so eloquently (if not, then it’s WELL worth your time to watch this video from start to finish).

I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Lustig on my podcast last July and then again earlier this year in January during “Encore Week.” Although he has personally stated to me that he doesn’t “subscribe to ‘low-carb'” but rather “safe carb,” I still think he has a lot to contribute to the overall message that we convey here at the “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb” blog. That’s why I’m super-excited to share with you a BRAND NEW VIDEO lecture featuring Dr. Robert Lustig entitled “A not-so-sweet ending? Societal interventions to reduce sugar consumption.” He presented this on Friday, July 15, 2011 as part of the “UCSF Center for Obesity, Assessment, Study and Treatment” lecture series. You’ll notice he takes the message of “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” by now examining ways to bring about lower sugar consumption in our society to curb obesity, diabetes, and other sugar-related health problems. And although there is no specific release date for it yet, I hear Dr. Lustig has a book in the works as well sometime in the near future. We’ll share more details when the time comes. In the meantime, enjoy this new 30-minute lecture from Dr. Lustig:


  • Mike

    I love that he’s pushing the truth in science but the fact that he thinks that the governemnt can fix the problem is disapointing. I’m having a heck of a time trying to convince my wife that sugar consumption is one of our biggest problems in our diet because we don’t directly eat a lot of sugar. The reason it is so hard to convince her is because she trusts what has been pushed down through our government by colusion of industry titans.

    Back in the 1900’s American’s knew what made us fat. To have such an effective reversal over the last 100 years of this bad knowledge could only come about with government ‘intervention’.

    It seems to me that our governements sole interest is keeping big corporations big. Giving more power to governement is giving more power to big corporations. Bank bailouts, Auto buyouts, manditory health insurance requirements (with union waivers!), FDA crackdowns on raw milk providers.

    We’re too busy fighting as democrats and republican’s to realize that we’re caught in a ‘good-cop, bad-cop’ game.

  • Awesome lecture!

    Lustig makes his case convincingly. I think it´s about time for the Low Carb/LCHF community to seriously considering revising the inscription “All carbs are created equally” on the stone tablets that the late, great Dr Robert Atkins brought down from the mountain. Evidence is accumulating that fructose is a far greater villain than starch/glucose.

    Lustig makes the point about fructose and its metabolism making it more likely to be stored as fat and contributing to metabolic syndrome. What is even more problematic is that fructose (and galactose in dairy) are about 10 times more potent as agents for glycation then glucose. Science Daily recently had a story about glycated LDL cholesterol (brilliantly analysed by Fat Head):

    • Who said “all carbs are created equal?” According to Lustig, evidence is not accumulating. It is there. But I don’t recall much evidence. I heard opinions.

  • It could be that sugar (and all caloric sweeteners) deserves the same treatment from society that cigarettes have gotten over the past few decades. Tax it heavily, put warning labels on it, educate the public about its dangers, let its manufacturers face class action lawsuits. That may seem extreme now, but when I was a little kid, taking those same measures against tobacco products seemed extreme, even unthinkable.

    Granted, there may not be a rationale for banning the consumption of sugar in public places. No “second-hand sugar” effect that I know of. The other big differences between sugar and cigarettes are that far more people are addicted to sugar and sugar has a more deeply entrenched wholesome image. So a public health fight against sugar will take much longer, and the outcome is in doubt.

    But to my mind, there is doubt about the necessity of making the fight.

    • Oops, in my last line I left out an important word. I meant to say “there is NO doubt about the necessity of making the fight.”

      Never write comments when your pupils are dilated for an eye exam!

  • Formidable

    Good talk. I suspect, however, that Dr. Lustig won’t be invited to any Tea Party rallies anytime soon!

    • It is probably no accident that it was FoxNews that interviewed me after I “testified” at the USDA hearings in Washington. Quotation marks because there was no evidence that they were listening. I think the transcripts are out there some place and Jeff Volek and I gave what I thought were good comments if slightly stuffy and academic but Jimmy was actually the star of the hearings. (Volek says he saw one of the panel actually perk up when Jimmy spoke).

      Incidentally, on FoxNews, I mentioned that saturated fat in the blood was primarily due to dietary carbohydrate and not dietary saturated fat. After my 2 minutes of fame, the producer followed me out of the studio and wanted to hear more about it.

  • Joe

    Dr. Lustig may be correct on the science, but his solutions may be worse than the cure. A loss of freedom, and we have very little left to lose.



    • Dr. Lustig is NOT correct on the science. Alcohol is not a carbohydrate. A horse is not a dog. Alcohol is NOT metabolized like fructose except in that everything is metabolized in similar ways. He’s a nice guy and you gotta’ love somebody who thinks that everything that is wrong is due to Richard Nixon (last YouTube). The AHA statement that he is an author on and proud of does not mention even a single experiment on carbohydrate restriction. The intelligent question to ask is: “Are the benefits consistently shown with carbohydrate restriction due primarily to fructose reduction or to the total amount of carbohydrate removed?” Re-analysis of existing studies may provide an answer.
      I will try to lay out some of the relevant biochemistry on my blog (http://rdfeinman.wordpress.com). It is, in fact, not that clear cut because the human data is somewhat different than the animal studies which provide most of our current knowledge. For the moment, one relevant fact:
      If you are on a low carbohydrate diet, any fructose that you do eat is mostly turned to glucose in the liver.

  • Hi Jimmy,
    One of the greatest assets to your blog is that even though some people seem to subscribe, in some ways, to an opposing message, you give them a forum and audience to share their message.

  • tam

    I’m waiting for a ‘Starch – The Bitter Truth’ lecture.

    • You won’t be hearing it from Lustig.

      • tam

        I guess Tom Naughton has already done it with “Big Fat Fiasco pt. 1-5”:

  • Jill Escher

    As much as I admire Dr. Lustig, I disagree with his prescription. The way out of the obesity epidemic must begin with the medical profession understanding, accepting, and treating the scourge of sugar addiction. As of today, the medical profession denies this very obvious addiction exists. It’s shameful, we have a long way to go.

  • Dr. Lustig and I have corresponded at length and have a collegial relationship. He also grew up in Brooklyn so unlike most of the lipophobes he can take it as well as dish it out so I’m not pulling punches.

    Scientifically, it is not clear that sugar is addictive so much as highly reinforcing, that is consuming it is hard to stop. Unlike food, sugar consumption is not under the control of deprivation, that is, you don’t have to be hungry to consider sugar a reward. That is why we server desert AFTER the meal.

  • Jill Escher

    Dr. Feinman, Where do you draw the line between “addiction” and “highly reinforcing.” The reason people can’t stop eating their HyperCarbs is because they MUST. It takes a deliberate plan of action and a period of very uncomfortable withdrawal to normalize very warped biochemistry to the point where normal eating can again ensue. Please, sit your tushie down at an OA meeting for a window into the struggle. Half of America is chemically addicted, there’s no doubt in my tiny mind. By the way, I love your work.

  • I don’t draw the line at all. By “scientifically, it is not clear,” I meant that behavioral psychologists have precise or at least operational definitions for these things and I don’t know the current state of thinking in that field. I think usually, the definition includes more than “I can’t stop eating the ice cream once I open the carton” (who said that?). Many people report that after 2 or 3 days on a low carb diet, they don’t have andy desire for sweets or any physical withdrawal symptoms, of the uncomfortable type you describe, which might make it different from an addiction.

    I had lunch the other day with Dr. Rich Wood from Univ. of Springfield and we were talking about this. The way he put it was “if there were a big bowl of chocolate chip cookies here, I would feel no desire to eat one but if I ate one, I could easily polish off the whole bowl.” In my mind, that is a description of an important problem in behavior but, again, “addiction” like many words in psychology has a technical as well as common meaning.

    By the way, as they say in the commercials, I am not only the professor, I’m also a client. I understand fighting fat very well.

  • Nina

    Great video…… but I MISS THE TIE.


  • David

    A side comment–given your results with Julian Bakery’s bread, I’m sort of wondering why your name is still listed on their website as endorsing their “low carb” bread.


  • Linda

    Thanks Jimmy for bringing this new video to our attention; I found it very thought provoking. I always enjoy hearing Dr. Lustig’s research and ideas.

    I understand the reluctance to have the government impose laws or taxation to try to fix the problem. On one hand, the increase in cigarette tax seems to have made a negative impact on smoking; on the other, the “war on drugs” has been a continual failure. Seems to me that making something expensive and difficult to obtain does work to some degree. But the corn refiners would never let that happen here.

  • Katy

    I certainly wouldn’t want the government to get involved with our food choices (look what happened with Prohibition!), but that doesn’t mean that the message from government re: what is healthful shouldn’t change. As I child back in the ’50s/’60s, I remember babies toting sugar-sweetened fruit drinks in their bottles instead of milk. My grandmother was aghast, but the focus of concern was their teeth, not the rest of their little bodies. Looking back, for an active population to have 6-8 oz. of Coke once in awhile wasn’t a big deal, but the U.S. seems to have a collective mindset that if a little is OK, more is too, and so now we’ve got people drinking soda in half-gallon servings; kids used to share a package of Twinkies, now they eat the whole box. Sweets used to be what people ate AFTER they had eaten nutritious meals, not as meals themselves. If we’re going to have government health messages/policies, they should focus on these issues, not on bans and taxes.

  • The major problem is total carbohydrate. The incremental effect of fructose is real, but small by comparison. Demonizing fructose is the last ditch effort of American Heart and the other lipophobes to stone-wall low-carb. The kinds of experiments that they point to start with 55 % carbohydrate (more than after the obesity epidemic) and then add fructose or glucose. The effect is not dramatic. If you have a very high carbohydrate diet, is it better to add sugar or starch? Is that really the question we need answered?

    If you tax sugar and money comes in, will Lustig and his friends at American Heart care if obesity continue to go up. I don’t think so. If you look at the Twinkies package, the main ingredient is flour.

  • Tula

    I was in the grocery store today and saw some soda labeled “classic” and “contains real sugar”. With all the hysteria over HFCS, now sugar is being seen as the good guy in sweeteners because it’s “natural.” Just because something is found in nature, doesn’t mean we should eat it.

    In the cereal aisle, I saw a box or organic flax cereal. The back was all about blah, blah, blah, low-fat!, blah, blah, blah, whole grains! blah, blah, blah, fiber!, etc… The thing that peeved me most on the ingredient list was “evaporated cane juice.” Nice little euphemism for sugar.

    • Yep, these food marketing peeps are getting desperate to keep selling their stuff…

  • Dan Spinato

    I’m sorry I missed this, must’ve been one helluva lecture! Thanks for sharing this, I have always been interested in lectures like this.

  • Drew

    Awesome lecture! Even better he didn’t say “ok” as much in this one. I hope he continues to deliver these speeches, every one he gives spreads the message more.

  • Tonyccc2531941

    I have had gout for years, and tried just about everything without success.I reduced meat to, minimum once
    a week, stopped alcohol altogether.I was having LOTS of fruit and vegetables and my gout was worsening.
    Finally I have read something about Excessive fructose increasing uric acid.I experimented reducing my fruit
    intake to 1 a day, and bingo within days I saw a dramatic improvement.Cherries are the only exception.
    I  eat a lot of them when in season,with no ill effects.
    Tony Phylactou