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Beyond gluttony and sloth

There has been a lot of discussion lately about the cause of obesity and why low carb works. This 15 minutes talk with professor Robert Lustig tells you why. He possibly understands it better than anybody.

If more people understood this the obesity epidemic could be reversed.

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28 Comments

  1. Sorry, but although Dr Lustig is probably one of the most knowledgeable on the subject, he is not easy to listen to because he comes over as trying to be too damned clever. I watched this with my wife Gina for the first time, after saying to her "come and listen to one of the top guys on the subject" Not liked at all. Couldn't 'hear' what he was saying because of his overwhelming appearance of arrogance. After listening another couple of times (myself) it seemed sound enough, but the message was one of being 'highly technical' when in fact the message is relatively simple. Excess carbohydrates has caused the most significant impact to the modern day obesity epidemic than anything else, and, a little studying will enable 90% of those affected to understand what to do and why. That is if it was not for the all consuming 'propaganda' stating calories in equals calories out, and that fat is bad for you when it is simply essential for your metabolism to 'auto-run'. There are many far reaching consequences of the entire mess that essentially Keys and McGovern has lead us all into (and I am from the UK) out of which I am sure Dr Lustig would be one of the foremost capable of leading the research. I am not an expert but I do know what it is like to have a heart attack, have stents implanted, be on statins for 3 months, suffer the consequences, go against doctors advice, ditch all 5 tablets I was given, lose faith in the UK primary care service, and find my own solution in a low carb, higher fat diet after very gratefully coming across Malcolm Kendrick, Barry Groves and Gary Taubes. There are now many others, Dr Lustig being one of them. ;-)
  2. A little more to the last post - I am now considerably fitter than I have been for several years, 30 pounds less in weight so far (since June of this year) several years of eczema gone (after about 2 weeks!!) 95% improved situation with haemorrhoids, better memory, more lucid and coherent, better sleeping, mood swings gone (got my wife's permission to say so), and far more able to go forward on this mission!!
  3. Pattye
    I was hopeful in watching this video that Dr. Lustig would reveal and promote the criminal advice of some doctors in advising the large intake of "healthy grains' to diabetics or to otherwise explain how starchy carbohydrates, primarily grain products and sugar, not just sodas - are what is causing the obesity epidemic of today. When compared to how my grandparents ate (eggs and bacon for breakfast, not one cereal product in the house) it seems that the largest food group of today's households are crap starchy carbohydrates, not just soda. I've never been a soda drinker in my life, mainly iced tea and water, yet I have managed to become insulin resistant and gain 75 lbs in the past 10 years.
  4. moreporkplease
    Great video. I'm from New York, as is Dr. Lustig, so I appreciate his in-your-face, tell-it-like-it-is directness.

    And you did a wonderful job with the interview, Andreas. A very nice intro to Lustig - so many people can't watch his long pieces because the biochemical slides overwhelm them. :)

  5. Deb
    Really enjoyed listening to this. Just last night I was telling my husband that it seems that with each bite of high carb food I have less and less will power. Now I know why! I
  6. Deb
    Really enjoyed listening to this. Just last night I was telling my husband that it seems that with each bite of high carb food I have less and less will power. Now I know why!
  7. eddie watts
    when is someone going to talk about ASP?
    that is what i want to know, taubes has touched on it, many low carb naysayers bring it up pretty quick, so someone should mention it and deal with it.
    please?!
  8. p01
    90% insulin; finally acknowledged after decades of useless debates and so called research. Bread, pasta, potatoes literally make you fat, like our grandparents already knew. A much welcomed progress nobody will notice anyway.
  9. Suzie
    Dr. Eenfeldt,

    Thank you for for doing this interview. The point you and Dr. Lustig brought out about the difference between acute and chronic high insulin levels and their individual effects on the body relating to satiety and obesity finally cleared up my understanding about how insulin works. (The satiety thing had me recently confused).

    Geoff B.,
    I don't think Dr. Lustig is making it too complicated. If the message is too simple critics come out of the woodwork and point out that it just doesn't happen like that. Dr. Lustig was right to point out the things he did so people know that there are differences in hormone problems and their causes. For instance, for me, Taubes's message was summed up as "eat less carbs, lower insulin, and avoid obesity." He based it on his analysis of tons of research. At first, that seemed to be enough, then some people decided it wasn't, so now it is not clear at all if controlling obesity is that simple. Learn the science and make up your own mind, but don't fault someone for teaching the science. I believe in LCHF, but it is not enough as my family eats this way and we are still overweight but less so than we used to be. Weight loss has stalled and I'm searching for answers. Knowledge about insulin, leptin, the hypothalamus, etc can only help my quest. Thanks for complicated lectures from knowledgeable people.

  10. Jaime
    Geoff B: I don't think Dr. Lustig is trying to be "too damn clever". Don't forget that even though he is meant to be interviewed for wider audience, he is talking to another doctor, and he is not using so much jargon anyway. The gist is very clear: carbs and frutose are the main culprits, but a lot of people surely would like to know why too. I, for one, can never get too much info, no matter how technical it gets.
  11. Funderaren
    Good work on the video on a technical level doc. Looked very pro.
  12. Lynne
    Fascinating interview! Bravo and thank you so much, Dr. Eenfeldt, for bringing this interview with Dr. Lustig to us here, along with your other posts from the ASBP confernce. I'll definitely be sharing link to your interview with our low-carb support group here in Durham. Also sharing with colleagues at work (clinical nurse educators). I can't wait for the conversations this interview is going to spark in the office! (I began my low-carb lifestyle two years ago today (on 11/05/09), as a patient with Dr. Eric Westman. Two years and almost 150 lbs lost, I'm now within 40 lbs of my goal, and I'm overjoyed. I have my life and health back, thanks to Dr. Westman's brilliant care, guidance, and approach with those of us who are his patients in clinic. The learning that has happened and is happening for me (and others!) along the way is life changing - and that is an understatement).

    Please know that your website and blog posts have been - are - a wonderful and truly appreciated resource and an important part of ongoing success with low-carb lifestyle. Knowledge is power! After a lifetime of ups/downs on the scale and being "at war" with food, with myself, and with well-intended physicians who pushed low-fat diets with me...the only hunger that I have now is for more knowledge and true science found in low-carb/high fat approach. The message you are bringing and information you are sharing with all of us around the world is a godsend.

    A simple "thank you" will never be enough, but... thank you so much for all that you are doing there, and here online, and around the world with groups, too. (Your Ancestral Health Symposium lecture was fantastic. I've shared that youtube link liberally with friends and colleagues here, and have to tell you...you've got a couple of nurses, diabetes educators, and nutritionists I know who are really having to re-think some things as a result of that lecture!).

    Thank you for your time, care, commitment and for courage to stand up for truth in a world and medical community (in general) that continues to push - with disasterous outcomes - low-fat as the only way. Thank you for the work that you and other physicians and researchers are doing that shows the world that, "No, it's not...and here's why." You are giving true keys to health back to people. Don't ever doubt that you are changing lives and saving lives. Because you are.

    Continued best wishes and thank you always.

  13. Lynne,
    Thanks for all your kind words! Stay tuned, this revolution is just getting started. ;)
  14. Thanks for a really good interview. The message is so clear and it's just so sad that most healthcare professionals have such a problem to accept it ...
  15. Margaretrc
    I am particularly thankful for the information on chronic versus acute hyperinsulinemia. It makes so much sense and goes a long way toward reconciling (for me) what I've heard/read about insulin and satiety and insulin and obesity. Brilliant!
  16. Margaretrc
    Oh, and thank you for bringing that to us, Doc. This site is the first one I go to every day and I love all your links. Here are a couple of other sites worth looking at: http://www.lowcarbdiabeticuk.blogspot.com/ is one I visit fairly regularly--it is maintained by type 1 and type 2 diabetics in the UK.
    http://www.drjaywortman.com/blog/wordpress/
  17. My sons always tell me it is calories in and calories out and I can't seem to change their minds on that. I sent this to them. Very interesting and so informative. Thank you for sharing this with us.
  18. jakey
    best summation of the obesity problem i've seen, yet. tackles the effect of starches (glucose) on insulin production, and fructose on hepatic insulin resistance. and touches on the basic problem with the calories in/calories out paradigm - if a good number of the calories that go in are instantly shuttled to your fat cells for storage, by insulin, they have not actually gone "in," in any meaningful sense., i.e. the body can't access the fuel, it needs more, so you eat more.

    bravo!

  19. Funderaren
    Jennifer, tell your sons that they are right, but they must take into account how complex calories in and out actually are.

    If it were so simple that its just a question of calories, the easiest way of losing weight would be to skip breakfast. Thats one of the reasons sumowrestlers skip breakfast. ;)

  20. Martin Levac
    Andreas, with respect, Lustig does not possibly understand it better than anybody. If there's anybody that fits this description, it's Gary Taubes. In fact, besides the fructose/liver bit which is all Lustig, everything else Lustig said in this video above Taubes says in all his lectures on the topic, but with much more details and much less pomp. Not once did Lustig credit Taubes. Maybe Lustig came up with the same discourse by looking at the same research Taubes looked at, but I doubt it. Taubes looked at literally tons of research to write his books because he was paid to do so. Lustig did not because he was not.

    I think I understand now why Lustig said "Just remember, it's about the message, not the messenger". Of course, if it was about the messenger, he'd have to credit Taubes. Call me cynical.

    Otherwise the message is about right.

  21. jakey
    martin, lustig's been working at this for far longer than taubes has. taubes is a science writer; an investigative journalist. he's investigating the work of people like lustig. you have your chicken & egg paradigm backwards.
  22. Martin Levac
    @Jakey, Lustig's shtick is all about fructose and the liver. The first time I heard Lustig speak, he said how glucose was good, and how fructose was bad. That's it. He never once used terms like "a disorder of fat deposition" or like "eat less, exercise more" in the context of competing hypotheses, i.e. the positive caloric balance hypothesis vs the carbohydrate hypothesis (typical Taubes lecture material). His entire discourse was all about fructose and the liver. Nothing else. A very limited specialized topic. Until this video.

    As far as I know, there's no reference to Lustig's work in Taubes' books. The earliest time I know of where Taubes made reference to Lustig was in a recent NYTimes magazine article titled Is Sugar Toxic? published April 13, 2011.

    Lustig recently met with Taubes at the AHS or something like that. Maybe that's when and where Lustig decided to change his pitch.

    I have my chicken and egg paradigm in the proper order. But thank you for your concern.

  23. Garth Turner
    It really is great that more and more sceintists, doctors etc are coming out in favour of LCHF diets, but I still believe we have a mountain to climb. It will take years before govermnets and health bodies will accept that high carb low fat diets have been wrong. can you imagine the law suits against goverments, for feeding us the wrong information for the last 30 years? As I said, we have a long road ahead of us. Good piece by Lustig by the way
  24. Maggan A
    Garth Turner "It will take years before govermnets and health bodies will accept that high carb low fat diets have been wrong".

    The good news is that most of us who already know it prophably will live to see it - because we are going to live a lot longer than expected lifetime ;-)

  25. Denis
    For Robert Lustig's thoughts on Gary Taubes; listen to KQED's Forum program

    http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201104211000

  26. Martin is correct that Lustig had only moved half way to understanding that it is not only fructose, but carbs in general that are problematic, and not until Taubes gained ground did he move into the paleo/primal realm. But at least he's moving in the right direction until Guyanet.
  27. The main thing that I can say is that this is not the way scientists talk. Everything is "the majority of," "90 %" or, more likely, "absolutely."

    EXCEPT: Lustig: "very low carb diets work best for these patients" Andreas: "and for people in general" Lustig: (sotto voce) "yes." That's the moment. He can't bring himself to say "low carbohydrate diets."

    In biochemistry, it is the message. When you step into policy, though and try to manipulate the food supply and are selling a particularly message, it is the messenger. Lustig is not a biochemist. Lustig is not an expert on metabolism. He has published absolute howlers about thermodynamics and biochemistry ind general.

    One question that I have is how good a pediatrician he is. Presumably not that great or he wouldn't be running to the government for help with taxation. Well, why not? One possibility is that the low-fructose message obscures or even prevents the low-fat message. Alternatively it is the right message and...we have to blame the patient...or the food industry...or the government...never the expert.

  28. I meant, of course, that low-fructose may obscure the low-carbohydrate message. And, of course, I'm not really attacking the messenger -- Lustig is also from Brooklyn and can take it as well as dish it out -- but, rather, the lack of strong data. Almost all the data supporting Lustig's position comes from studies at high carbohydrate under which conditions fructose may be worse than glucose but even there, the effects are not as dramatic as what you see when you replace fat with any carbohydrate.

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