Must see: Toxic sugar on 60 Minutes

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This is a fantastic report on 60 Minutes. A must see. It starts out with dr Lustig assuring us that sugar is toxic (in the amount regularly consumed in America today).

Then another scientist tells us that a calorie is not necessarily a calorie. Fructose (from sugar) is different, it has other nasty effects in our bodies. After finding this out she stopped consuming sugar.

A third scientist tells us how according to his research sugar feeds common cancer cells. And oh yes, he stopped drinking soda when he found this out.

A fourth researcher shows us how consuming sugar lights up the reward centers in the brain. It looks like what happens when ingesting “drugs like cocaine”. Conclusion? Sugar is addictive.

In summary sugar is toxic and worse than other calories. Sugar fuels cancer cells and is addictive. That’s what a representative of the sugar lobby has to try to explain away at the end of the show. Not very successfully.

As if this perfect 14 min segment on 60 Minutes wasn’t good enough there’s a lot of excellent extra material on the web. Check it out:

Sugar and kids: The toxic truth

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Are we feeding our kids a toxin? Dr Sanjay Gupta, a father of three, gives us his opinion on how a typical family should think about sugar in their diet (4 minutes).

From fructose to fat

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Dr Gupta interviews a scientist who studies how a lot of the fructose we eat clearly turns to fat in the body. A nice 2 min clip.

How fructose builds belly fat

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2 minutes about the belly fat that tends to increase with excessive fructose consumption.

Calories: not all created equal

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More on the study showing that fructose is different from other calories. In just two weeks it raises risk factors for heart disease even in healthy young slim persons (2 minutes).

Fruit vs. sugary drinks

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Nice short clip on the difference between sugary drinks and fruit. Few people eat as much sugar from fruit as the amount easily ingested by typical soda drinking habits.

Sugar is toxic, spread the word

Sugar is toxic (in large amounts). More people need to understand that to reverse the devastating epidemics of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. This show on 60 minutes is one of the best reports I’ve seen on the subject.

Spread the word to your family and friends. Who do you know that needs to see this?

What do you say?

What do you think after seeing this?


  1. Karen Brooks
    Hi Robert, your site is my go to for LCHF...I have lost 13kg in 5 months and recommend your LCHF for beginners to everyone who asks me what I've done...
    Question: how do you recommend going about taking sugar out of kids' diets. My 8 year old eats basically like I do with the addition of pasta and pizza a couple of times a week. But I feel mean demanding that he eat no treats at all... so he has chocolate and biscuits occasionally and of course sweets at parties...
    Suggestions welcome!
  2. Kjell
    I know that Lustig is very informed, and familiar with Yudkin's work, so it was a little odd that he was not mentioned in the show/clip. Yudkin (1910-1995), was a british physiologist/scientist and the author of "Pure, White and Deadly" (1972). Frankly, the sugar-toxin link is not new, and should not be that surprising.

    Still, I applaud 60 minutes for helping to spread this extremely important message. It really is a matter of life or death. There is no logical reason to take in the amounts of (added) sugar that an ordinary/average person does these days.

  3. Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, MD Team Diet Doctor
    That sounds reasonable to me. It's a question of doses, like with all toxins. Healthy slim active 8-year-olds can probably handle a little bit of sugar once in a while. But not in large amounts regularly.
  4. mezzo
    Thanks Andreas, this is really good stuff (except for the annoying commercials, talk about attention spans shortening all the time). I have already sent them to two people who need to know this and shared it on my timeline. Good to know that some knowledge is going into mainstream programmes now.
  5. Irene
    I would really like to eliminate SUGAR from my kids diet, its just that it seems that everything i pick up at the supermarket (excluding veg and meat) has SUGAR in it, so my question to you is where can i buy treats (i.e. sugar free chocolate, jellies, kids treats etc) for my kids, i would be willing to pay a bit extra for sugar free treats but obviously i'm on a budget and the sugar free choc they sell in my local health food store is a ridiculous price that i can't see how anyone can afford to buy on a regular basis unless you are a millionaire. I really do care about my kids diets and would love to make some lifestyle changes as i worry what the nasty sugars in foods are harming their teeth and health. I live in Dublin, Ireland. Thanks.
  6. Funderaren
    Irene, the best food is the one that isnt processed. Fresh vegetebles should be free from added sugar. Fresh natural meat should also be free from sugar.

    As for candy, I not a strong supporter of sugarfree substitutes. If you have to give candy aim at quality candy, like chocolate with high amounts of cacao (+70%). Also nuts like almonds and fruits are better alternative then factory made treats.

    For my young kids I cut out beverege with sugar. Milk is the sweetest thing they have been given. And no candy. Of course this was easy since they are so young, I guess its harder once you have started to give them candy.

  7. Dee
    Thanks for sharing Doc!
    I understand that fructose turns to fat in the liver however that is only part of the picture on creating small LDL particles and increasing insulin release (which triggers fat storage). What's missing in this report is the fact that wheat products and some other types of carbohydrates do the same exact thing in our body. I realize that sugar (fructors especially) is in most processed foods, but so is wheat or some form of it and wheat is cheap and makes its way into a lot of the same foods, if not more than sugar. To demonize sugar by talking about the effects on the body without including other foods that do the same thing is very disappointing. Yes, we should reduce or elminate sugar because the US consumes WAY too much. But it's not the panacea for the diabetes, obesity or CVD problem we have in the US. Good report but it's not complete.
  8. Will
    I totally agree with sugar being a toxin. I have started eating low carb under 20g a day. I had a terrible time for four days as my body switched to ketosis. Then it was just amazing. I had none of the sugar highs and lows. I just had steady energy throughout the day and I never felt hungry. So much so that I had to remind myself to atleast have lunch. I decided to have lunch and dinner. A total of 600 calories. I was functioning just fine at 600 calories with no hunger. However, some people say that eating that low per day will "harm" your metabolism. Is this true? Moreover, my calories were from spinach and lean chicken. I guess I'm doing low carb... low fat. Which according to this site is a big no no. I will need time to get over the fear that has been drilled in to us since 1980s with regards to fats. Today I added 15g of butter to my diet. It tasted nice but I didnt feel better or worse than when I just had my lean chicken and spinach.
    I'm thinking of having 30g of butter a day. My real concern is that just like now these guys are calling sugar a toxin.. what if 10 years down the road they start calling butter fat a toxin? Butter does raise LDL... there's no question about that. However, what I can't get a straight answer about is... is a higher LDL that bad? Doctors havent established a strong enough link between cholesterol numbers and heart disease. People with lower levels of LDL also have atherosclerosis. This program on sugar suggests that fructose results in the very worst type of LDL. Is there any study on what type of LDL is raised by consuming saturated fats. Some sources say that this LDL is the buoyant type that doesn't stick to our arteries. Is this true?
    Is there a limit to the daily dose of saturated fats? in terms of grams of fat per kg of weight or something along those lines? The reason that I have added a small amount of butter is that I dont want all my calories coming from protein as protein also triggers insulin... not as much as carbs but it still has an impact. I guess it will take me some time to get over my fear of fats.
  9. Funderaren
    Will, butter has been a natural part of human diet for thousands of years, refined sugar hasnt.

    You can never be sure of anything, but I do bet my life that natural butter is healthy.

  10. Will
    @funderaren... knowing that does give me comfort. however, didnt those guys have an avg. life span of 45 years? i know that they died of other diseases which are treated easily now... it wasnt like the cause of their death was heart disease.... but just the fact that they didnt really live long enough for heart disease to be an issue is something to think about.. i asked my cardiologist about saturated fat.. and he said it is best to have it in extreme moderation... my LDL is normal and he said that if it goes up.. he can put me on lipitor... that seems to be his only goal... trying to get me on lipitor...
  11. p01
    Sugar may be toxic in the quantities consumed today, but I would bet good money that wheat and vegetable oils have a much more damaging impact on human health. Having seen Lustig's presentation on the "Bitter Truth", I'm not convinced about sugar's toxicity per se, considering human's body's evolutionary ability to metabolize it, even if all the byproducts and biochemical reactions are presented as scary things.
    On the other hand, wheat (and grains in general) and vegetable oils are really foreign to our body and yet no one studies seriously their really scary biochemical reactions.
  12. Susan
    THANK YOU for putting up this information, including the additional materials available on the CBS web site. I agree that wheat has many of the same negative attributes as sugar, but it is a great start for the mainstream media to make a STRONG case on the harm caused by sugar. Once the "sugar is evil" concept takes hold in society, the "wheat is evil" concept will be easier for people to believe.
  13. Amber
    Irene, my kids love chocolate and this is what I do for them. I melt some coconut oil and mix in some cocoa powder and stevia to taste. Then put it in the freezer to harden. The kids love it.
  14. Alexandra M
    Will - There's a page on this website that has links to peer-reviewed journal articles and that answers some of your questions.

    More links here:

    (Hmmm - there must be something in the air as AWLR has completely changed its website design, too!)

    Also, Google Scholar is your friend.

  15. Alexandra M
    What's interesting, though, is that nobody seems to talk about changing our expectations about how much sweet stuff of any kind should be part of our diet. It's all about "what other sweet things can I eat to replace the sugar I'm not supposed to eat?"

    I'm extremely lucky in that I've never had much of a sweet tooth (my weakness was always for good bread, rice pilaf, etc.), so I don't mind sweets being a rare special occasion treat, e.g. a really rich dessert on my birthday, a tiny cup of excellent gelato on a trip to Rome, sometimes a couple of squares of Vosges chocolate on a Sunday evening. I'm certainly not going to waste my treat allowance on a cupcake with so much sugar in the icing that it practically burns your tongue!

    As you can see from this video, we Americans as a society seem to think that a mid-afternoon ice cream or cupcake should be part of the daily routine. I hope this program can get people to start re-thinking that expectation.

  16. Amber
    Alexandra, it was pretty much the same in our house. Sugar was not a vital part of our day so it was easy to let it go. The problem became that we have two small children (ages 5 and 2), and it quickly became apparent that even the occasional treat turned them into screaming, tantrum throwing wild children. So for now the occasional treat has become the chocolate that I mentioned above and for birthdays we do sugar free cheesecakes. After having learned how my children actually behave, I do not want to deal with the screaming wild children ever again.
  17. Galina L.
    Karen, there is nothing mean about not giving your kids sweet treats. I raised my son who is now 19 without giving him candies, cookies, soda at home, but he could eat any junk he wanted outside our home. Result - he has no cavities, lean and muscular, with natural preference for non-sweet food. The treats he liked were cheese-strings and jerky , also some cold cuts. Now he sees it as a gift that he was fed food prepared from scratch during his childhood because most his friends were fed junk and now he can notice the difference. Try to accustom your kids to drink mostly water and avoid fruit juices. I allowed myself to give some sugar to my son in a hot tea, one tea spoon was enough.
  18. Fructose and ethanol share some of the same metabolic pathway. Since both occur in natural foods (or as a metabolite), the body has evolved mechanisms for safely handling them. Up to a certain amount. Unfortunately, one 12-oz can of HFCS-sweetened cola can overwhelm the body's capacity to safely handle fructose.

    So fructose is definitely bad. Although I've seen pure fructose powder sold in "health food" stores here in the US. (head. bang. on. desk.)

    As bad as fructose is, however, I think that modern dwarf wheat is even worse. Both are toxic, but frankenwheat is toxic at a much lower dose.

    Unfortunately, you can't get either of those items out of the mainstream US diet without destroying a big chunk of the current economy. It won't happen overnight, and it won't happen without a very nasty fight.

    @Will: Just what "study" proves that butter raises LDL? Note that the current most-popular cholesterol test is grossly inaccurate for people on a low-carb diet.

  19. Janknitz
    It is not necessary or advisable to replace sugar sweetened treats with artificially sweetened treats. When you stop eating sweets you will start to appreciate the natural sweetness in foods that you can't even imagine is there while you are eating processed garbage. The transition may be rough for a week or two, but once you've made it you will be amazed at how great things taste and your kids will learn to love real foods--fruits will be a wonderful treat. Imagine how great you will feel giving your kids a healthy diet instead of filling corporate coffers to feed them sugarful toxins!

    There are plenty of studies now showing that saturated fats high in omega 3's increase the large fluffy LDL (the good kind), decrease triglycerides, and increase HDL. Don't fear butter--fear the low fat and so-called "healthy" manufactured oils that turn out to be the ones that truly harm our bodies. If you consistently. consume too few calories you are going to damage your organs from loss of lean muscle mass (remember your heart is a muscle!) and you may trigger your thyroid to slow down your metabolism to try to prevent starvation. 600 k/cal a day is not enough!!! Don't fear fat and eat enough to keep your body working.

  20. p01
    Fructo(zo)phobia (the irony being it has a 60 Minutes related motto):
  21. Funderaren
    Will, avarage life span hasnt so much to do with how old some people got, but more how many that survived their first years after birth.

    Yes there are some that believe that saturated fat is dangerous and that is what they teach doctors. But if we look at the science behind the warnings of saturated fat, you will see that the actual evidence to support this is very slim.

    And if we look at it from a logic viewpoint. We wouldnt be very good hunters if what we hunted made us sick. No other predator seem to get sick from their natural food, why should we?

  22. Cyndie Trapasso
    I consume a lot of sugar substitutes...mostly saccharin. How does this affect the body? Is this a healthy alternative?
  23. Alexandra M
    Cyndie - here's the low down on substitutes. What do you mean by "a lot?"

  24. Zepp
    To the question about saturated fat!!

    "One of the more remarkable results from Jeff Volek’s laboratory in the past few years was the demonstration that when the blood of volunteers was assayed for saturated fatty acids, those who had been on a low carbohydrate diet had lower levels than those on an isocaloric low-fat diet. This, despite the fact that the low-carbohydrate diet had three times the amount of saturated fat as the low-fat diet. How is this possible? What happened to the saturated fat in the low-carbohydrate diet? Well, that’s what metabolism does. The saturated fat in the low-carbohydrate arm was oxidized while (the real impact of the study) the low-fat arm is making new saturated fatty acid. Volek’s former student Cassandra Forsythe extended the idea by showing how, even under eucaloric conditions (no weight loss) dietary fat has relatively small impact on plasma fat."

  25. Cyndie Trapasso
    Alexandra M:

    Thanks for the info...told me what I wanted to hear! Actually I don't consume as much as I used to as I have cut out Diet Coke (which I love). Down to using 3/4 of a packet of Sweet-N-Low in each cup of coffee. I probably drink a pot of coffee a day with lots of tap water in between.

  26. I've sent these videos to family members; finally science is backing up what so many of us have learned the hard way.

    The main issue with sugar for kids is that it develops their palate for it. Further, sugar diseases are progressive, build up over time. I spent over half my life as a tall, lean, fit person, but a life time of sugar eventually led to problems I'm spending the rest of my life working to correct. Kids will get more than they ever need of sweets at parties, and the like; parents don't need to add to that except for rare feasting times. I am concerned that my grandchildren already like sweets too much; I hope they can learn that like alcohol, a little may not be a problem, but a little can soon turn in to a lot if one is not thoughtful about intake.

  27. Regarding the comments about early humans only living to be 45 and babies not making it through the first year:

    I can't remember where I saw it, but someone explained that the way anthropologists traditionally determined the age of a person's death from their bones was by looking at how much calcium they had lost. This works for modern humans, but maybe not for prehistoric humans. Their age might be drastically underestimated because they had much stronger bones.

    Also, I think it is likely that a high infant mortality rate is linked to the change to a grain based diet. I suspect that many babies who thrived on mother's milk (a high-fat, animal food diet) for the first year of two of life, may have died as a result of being weaned onto some sort of cereal gruel. Otherwise, why would they tend to die after the age of one and not earlier? It would have had the effect of weeding out those who were least able to adapt to an agricultural lifestyle.

  28. Egil
    @ Will - #8

    "I have high cholesterol, and I don't care":

    Part I:
    Part II:

    Bon apetite.

  29. Fiona
    Excellent presentation overall. Very interested in the section showing the MRI studies; my 4 year old son has a severe medical condition. When he was young and had to undergo numerous medical procedures (from needles through to lumbar puncture) at a world-class paediatric hospital here in Australia, he was often given sugar syrup onto his tongue with a syringe in order to 'deaden' his physical and emotional response to the procedure.
  30. Mary
    Karen, when baking at home for your children, substitute the sugar in traditional recipes with, coconut sugar or maple sugar, it makes a world of difference. But that does mean he should have sweets everyday. I agree with a previous poster that cheese string are a treat, baked potato chips, celery with cheese or peanut butter. Applesauce, homemade is the best. Fruit soups with a dab of whipped cream on top, slice peaches or any fruit will curb the sugar desire.
  31. RE: Belly Fat - The Drs. Eades show a simple way to determine your belly fat:

    With a little ingenuity and a few simple items, you can use the method to make a SAD measurement right in your own home. Taking this measurement standing and lying flat and then figuring the difference between the two gives you a more accurate picture of how much fat is stored as VAT within the inner tube and how much is just beneath the skin. Remember that the inner tube is bounded by a fairly thick wall of abdominal muscles that surround the visceral fat and prevent much change in its shape, whether you’re standing or lying down. You can think of the abdominal muscular wall as being like a length of PVC pipe—standing on end or lying on its side, its shape and its diameter are constant. Conversely, nothing but skin contains the subcutaneous stores. This outer tube, more akin to a water balloon than a pipe, is much less rigid than the muscular wall. Therefore, when you stand, the fat beneath the skin acts like water under the influence of gravity; it seeks its own level, basically puddling around your waist in the typical “spare tire” configuration. A front-to-back measurement of your abdomen at its widest point, taken while standing, will yield a measurement of the full breadth of this spare tire. However, when you lie down, the sub-Q fat again flows like water, falling to the sides and, thus, the front-to-back measurement lying down will be a somewhat smaller one. If the numbers standing and lying are pretty close to the same, that indicates that a fair amount of fat is of the visceral type, bounded by the thick abdominal muscles, unable to move as freely as you change positions. And it also indicates that losing your middle-aged middle is much more important than cosmetic reasons alone would dictate.

  32. Galina L.
    It is not necessary to make an apple souse, it is enough to microwave an apple or two, and cool it down. It is not a regular food, it is a treat. Great with whipped cream.
  33. @Will: Forget about butter & good fats causing CVD & atheroma, just eat up because they are the cure! Atherosclerosis can be caused by a high carb wheat & grain diet alone, but since 1915 with the German the invention of industrially processed toxic trans fat adulterated liquid vegetable oils, these days it's mostly caused by the OXIDIZED cholesterols produced in the body from eating industrially processed high carb 'foods' that were made to be indefinitely 'shelf stable' by loading them up with the toxic oils. This is why vegetarians that eat a high carb processed 'food' diet still get atherosclerosis & heart disease, and it's also why the Ornish & Pritikin diets that take people off all processed 'foods' & vegetable oils initially work to resolve atherosclerosis but then fail as patients return to eating canola & the other vegetable oils and the processed 'foods' made with the toxic trans fat oils.

    At the Ancestral Health Symposium 7 months ago cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Guy-Andre Pelouze, MD said in his presentation that "without oxidized LDL arterial plaque formation is very difficult." As he goes on to say, the reason is because OX LDL is SMALLER that the sub endothelial spaces between the endothelial cells that line the entire arterial system.

    It's very simple & easy to understand and makes imminent sense, watch the video here:

  34. "...Without oxidized LDL, (comma!) arterial plaque formation is very difficult."

    His presentation also makes 'eminent' sense.

  35. JustBeth
    I would love to see some actual science about various sources of fructose. Some people eat honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, and coconut sugar claiming it's "healthy". If I understood Dr. Lustig, though, all fructose is toxic - including those "healthy" alternatives. I think he said eat fruit! Is there science comparing all these sugars?
  36. asger
    oh wow, big surprise! Seriously America, how is this news to you?
  37. @asger: You seriously under-estimate the powerful advertising/agri-business/food lobby working w/the USDA in this country. Most of the people who are now championing lchf/paleo-primal are a small group more likely to be very well educated, more independent thinker types, not the mass of our citzens. The message to eat low fat was monolithic for over four decades. While people know too much sugar is bad, most had/have no idea how much sugar is in fast food/resaurant meals, or how powerful the sugars are in the brain. Most don't know that grain foods are sugars once digested, as one case in point.
  38. Kris
    Tips to other parents! In our family we have gone "LCHF-inspired", replacing all previous low fat products with their natural, preferrably high fat alternative. The kids can eat all the pasta, rice, potatoes they want but we try to get as much veggies as possible into the meals. Raw are usually more popular, but try corn, sugarsnaps, peas and beans.

    As for treats, nuts and raisins and fruit work well. Unfortunately the concept of saturday sweets and birthday pary goody bags have become a habit, giving us tantrum throwing weekends. I try to give them some cheese and yoghurt (plain) to soften the sugar highs.

  39. John
    My wife and I watched the episode on 60 minutes and found the ladie that was promoting a non sugar diet a hipocrite they were eating tomato sauce and white bread
  40. Delores
    Irene, I gave up sugar 4 weeks ago and I've lost 5 kilos. I've followed David Gillespie's books "Sweet Poison" published 2008, "Sweet Poison Quit Plan" 2010 and "Big Fat Lies" 2012. The book lists withdrawal symptoms, and I had the shakes during that period, but I'm just through that now and not really tempted by the sugar. I know if I have it, I'll want more, and it's not worth it. The writer has six young children and in the Quit Plan he explained how to detox the kids too with no sugar/no chemicals cake and biscuit recipes in the back. His books give a lot of information covering all bases including the chemicals in sugar free sweets, and why they give you diarrhoea. His books here in Australia have been hard to get as they sell out quickly. Friends of mine have bought them on their Kindle. They're really interesting, easy to read, with a lot of information in them. I found the information put me in the right mental framework to stop. Personally I'm enjoying high fat food. I haven't done any exercise yet, so the weight loss is from just stopping the sugar. Stay away from the dried fruits and juices. Hope this helps.

    JustBeth, the information about the type of sugars is also in the books. The body sees identifies, stores or uses practically everything you eat. The body doesn't see fructose when you consume it, so doesn't process it. As such the fructose remains in your arteries and converts to fat there. Still the body doesn't see it, so doesn't use it. Thereby being a problem. If you're not eating fructose, your body sees what you're eat and deals with it. Honey has 40% fructose, Maple Syrup is 35% fructose.

    Most people aren't aware that sugar is in everything, especially white bread and tomato sauce.

  41. Susan
    Hi everyone thanks for the tips they are all a great read. The thing I would like to read about if someone could help me and that is how to read the labels on the back of items, so I want to try and do the sugar free diet, but not sure on how to read the lables. Or if anyone can provide me with information on a sugar free diet or sugar free receipes I would appreciate it. Thank you
  42. Something to ponder.
    1. What percentage of the population ingest more fructose than glucose?
    2. What percentage of ingested fructose is turned to glucose through gluconeogenesis?
  43. Michael
    Have a look at what the dietitians association of Australia said about the 60 minute report

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