Robert Lustig’s New Talk on Sugar!

Recently a new 90 minute talk with professor Robert Lustig was posted on YouTube (his most watched – “Sugar, the Bitter Truth” from 2009 – has 4 millions views).

You can see the new one above. It’s almost identical to his talk in Oslo that I attended yesterday. Well worth watching, even before Will Smith makes a surprise appearance!

See the talk for more on why sugar is a potential poison.

33 Comments

Top Comments

  1. Galina L.
    Are you guys complitely unreasonable? Beer does not contain a lot of alcohol, and Lustig doesn't advocate for the complete alcohol abstinence, or even for total sugar or fructose abstinence. His advice is very non-strict - like don't go overboard with sugar and limit fructose. He brought up alcohol into the picture only in order to demonize sugar and fructose further, especially in the eyes of parents who continue to staff their small ones with "natural"fruit juices, sweetened fruit puree (in order to achieve the recommended amount of fruits servings, and the easiest way to get fruits into the system of most children is turning it into the candy likeness) , he obviously worked with a lot of children, and it is very possible, the speech "fructose is almost the same thing for a body as an alcohol", was the part of his tactic to scare parents away from all that "natural" junk. Dr.Lustig reminds me of Dr.Davis , the author of the Wheat Belly, who obviously found out what to say to the people in order to make them listen and to sell his ideas to a wide audience.
    Read more →
  2. François
    Interesting article, Paul. Totally in keeping with what is known - but not used - about cancer physiology. A normal cell can feed on glucose, ketone bodies and free fatty acids. A cancer cell can only metabolize sugar. By adapting a ketogenic diet, one truly starves the cancer and this approach, combined with more traditional approaches (surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy) greatly increases the odds of killing the cancer. When we feed high sugar foods to cancer patients because they are so emaciated (the epitomy of health according to Ondreij), we pay them a great disservice by feeding their cancer.
    Reply: #29
    Read more →

All Comments

  1. Lynda
    I just watched the entire video - Dr Lustig has done it again and no doubt this will be watched millions of times as was his first video. I admit some of it was a little over my head but in general I get it. Thank you for all the amazing information you share on Dietdoctor.com - it is my "go to" website to keep up to date with health news.
  2. eddy
    What everyone should know about losing weight...note faint hearted there is nudity....a collection of images of one woman's weight loss

    http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/11/what-no-one-tells-you-about-dramatic-...

    Reply: #4
  3. Wade Henderson
    Lustig is a interesting fellow. Most of what he says should be easily accepted by high fat and low fat believers.
    He is not trying to over sell fat, or eliminate all carbs, and yet any low fat, higher carb individual should find his no added sugars, and avoiding processed carbs, message useful.

    Less sugars, minimal fruit drinks, less refined carbs, almost no soft drinks, less candy.....
    Who can't take that message as one being for everyone regardless of dietary leanings?

    Reply: #5
  4. BR
    Edddy, I've labored through that article but I've failed to see the point.
  5. FrankG
    Despite your choice of the term "believers" with its religious overtones, or suggesting that an LCHF diet somehow means "eliminate all carbs", otherwise I agree with you that Dr Lustig is presenting a reasonable message, one which has the potential to benefit a great many people.

    I've commented before that I think he is playing a canny political game: in trying not to alienate himself from the mainstream while still highlighting the inherent dangers of too much sugar and refined starches in the modern diet.

    Reply: #6
  6. Michelle
    I agree, he is playing a political 'game', but do you think that he has a choice? What would happen to his message if he did alienate himself from the mainstream?

    His message is a sound one; a beginning and as we are only at the beginning of this huge battle against the food manufactures who produce the non-foods the world is addicted too, we can't and shouldn't ask for more at this moment in time.

    I also believe that Dr Lustigs' message in it's simplicity, will reach more people than if he had come out hard-ball and aggressive. It is a start.

    M x

    Reply: #7
  7. FrankG
    I agree Michelle, it is s start... and there is a great deal of inertia (not to mention opposition) to work against.

    I do think he has a choice but he is being shrewd by selecting to work the system from "inside", rather than risk becoming marginalised. Imagine if someone of his standing and qualifications were to have an influence on the next USDA dietary guidelines, for example...

  8. Michelle
    Now you're teasing me Frank :) Such a world could not exist. Could it?
  9. Galina L.
    I agree, there is a lot in his message everybody could agree with, which is a good start.
  10. Graham_LCHF
    Lustig, I think, appreciates the small-p politics of nutritional policy/politics. Having a broad message that almost no-one sensible (or alternatively without a vested interest otherwise - i.e. big food) could possibly disagree with has to be a good starting point.

    After all there are few voices in the nutritional world that pro-actively suggest that massive sugar intake is a "good thing". And most folk would agree that excess sugar consumption is the 'low-hanging fruit' in terms of starting to get people to moderate and/or restrict their carbs.

  11. Zepp
    I do think you all compare him to low carb gurus.. but I think he is mostly a real food guru!

    And there are others, like Michael Pollan and we got one of our own in sweden or rather several that promote real food!

    I think those do a great jobb.. better to eat real food and not be forced to eat low carb.. then one have a choise!

  12. PrimeNumbers
    Great video, and Lustig seems pretty right on as far as he goes. I'm sure it is all the added sugar that got us into this mess, but I'm not convinced that removing added sugars from the diet will get many of us back on the right track. He's certainly identified the problem, but his solution is only to stop it happening again, not to help the people who are in bother now, for that requires a LCHF diet.
  13. Ondrej
    It's difficult to take seriously Dr. Lustig 's health message when he sports a triple chin and a beer belly.

    It's like a homeless man giving a lecture on how to become a millionaire.

  14. Wade Henderson
    I believe Dr. Lustig is taking his long term goals along the same paths as his fellow UCSF researcher Stanton A. Glantz, whose work played a key role in the fight against tobacco.
    Starting with kids, then working its way up the age chain over decades.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanton_Glantz

    From the huge advertising campaigns being run by the beverage companies, they know the game is on. They've seen the tobacco battle plan.

    Lustig would damage his effectiveness if he brought the complete LCHF message to mainstream America.

  15. Galina L.
    @Ondrej,
    May be he does drink beer, so what? The lecture didn't discuss beer or how to be thin. He doesn't advise on limiting all carbohydrates, just to remove added sugar and fructose from a diet. Besides, the lecture is based on his work experience, not on a success story like "how I lost 100 lb and kept it off for a year". As many people who have to follow a LC diet, I can tell that limiting sugar to 6 - 9 teaspoon a day is way not enough to loose much weight. May be it is enough only for a whole population to stop or slow down the rise in the obesity rates especially among children. The lecture is not about how to make everyone to look like a model.
    I am reading the "Nutrition and Physical" degeneration at the moment. According to the book, the health problems in the traditional societies described in the book started after they got assess to not only sugar, but also refined flour and polished rice. If I remember properly, in the "Good Calories,Bad Calories" some epidemiological studies were mentioned, and the health problem started after one lb of sugar a month was exceeded. It looks like 8 Tbs a week. It is slightly over 2 tea spoons a days. Dr's recommendations are rather modest and not really revolutionary , probably, it gives him a better chance.
  16. Lynda
    @ OndreJ (13 above) - Dr Lustig looks great - healthy and happy. His personal message is not about obesity but health! He makes this clear. He certainly has no desire for everyone to be stick thin, just healthy and he makes this clear in this video.
    Reply: #21
  17. murray
    I read Fat Chance closely and had a lot of problems with his use of science, including his near total exoneration of glucose and starch. He is somewhat of a one-hit band with fructose when excess carbohydrate in general is driving the various epidemics of nutritional disease. Nonetheless, reduction of sugar is such an important goal that one ought not to attack openly allies in that cause.

    Galina, I keep going back to Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Weston Price, in my view, was the Charles Darwin of nutrition. His inference of Activator X (recently identified as menaquinone - vitamin K2) was masterful. It is continually instructive how the various cultures adapted interesting food practices over time to overcome deficiencies or toxicities in diet. The more I learn about metabolism, gene expression, etc., the more I get out of the book when I go back to it.

    Reply: #19
  18. Zepp
    Why does Lustig focus that much on fructose.. becuse of HFCS.. and where do you find HFCS.. in junkfood!

    Next step.. its altso in sugar!

    Thats my two cents!

  19. Galina L.
    Murray,
    The book is free on-line, but I really wanted to have it in my possession, and was lucky to find a hardcover for $49.99 on Amazon. The book is worth to have in a personal library and pass on children and grandchildren in a future! My hobby is to cook traditional foods, after learning about benefits of traditional diets, I feel less of an odd ball.
    Reply: #27
  20. grinch
    "May be he does drink beer, so what?"

    According to one of Dr. Lustig's older videos, fructose, fat, and alcohol are all the same thing.

    Reply: #22
  21. Ondrej
    "Dr Lustig looks great - healthy and happy" I agree - he looks like he's never missed a meal in his life!
  22. Zepp
    He altso said that he rather drink wiskey then eating fructose becuse its have similar effect on the liver.. without the benefits of wiskey!
  23. Galina L.
    Are you guys complitely unreasonable? Beer does not contain a lot of alcohol, and Lustig doesn't advocate for the complete alcohol abstinence, or even for total sugar or fructose abstinence. His advice is very non-strict - like don't go overboard with sugar and limit fructose. He brought up alcohol into the picture only in order to demonize sugar and fructose further, especially in the eyes of parents who continue to staff their small ones with "natural"fruit juices, sweetened fruit puree (in order to achieve the recommended amount of fruits servings, and the easiest way to get fruits into the system of most children is turning it into the candy likeness) , he obviously worked with a lot of children, and it is very possible, the speech "fructose is almost the same thing for a body as an alcohol", was the part of his tactic to scare parents away from all that "natural" junk. Dr.Lustig reminds me of Dr.Davis , the author of the Wheat Belly, who obviously found out what to say to the people in order to make them listen and to sell his ideas to a wide audience.
  24. Stacy in USA
    While I think Lustig is mostly right on the science, I find his paternalistic attitude incredibly off-putting. It might be a generational or cultural thing; many Americans under 30 have a hard time with the baby-boom concept of TOP MEN handing down dictates from on high. Peter Atta seems to respect the intelligence of his audience in a way Lustig doesn't.
  25. Galina L.
    Ondrej,
    some day you will learn that emaciated look do not necessary correlates with a health. Just wait.
  26. Paul the rat
    J Natl Cancer Inst. 2012 Nov 21;104(22):1702-11. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djs399. Epub 2012 Nov 7.

    Dietary glycemic load and cancer recurrence and survival in patients with stage III colon cancer: findings from CALGB 89803.

    Meyerhardt JA, Sato K, Niedzwiecki D, Ye C, Saltz LB, Mayer RJ, Mowat RB, Whittom R, Hantel A, Benson A, Wigler DS, Venook A, Fuchs CS.
    Source
    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 450 Brookline Ave, Boston, MA 02215, USA. jmeyerhardt@partners.org

    Abstract
    BACKGROUND:
    The influence of glycemic load and related measures on survival among colon cancer patients remains largely unknown.
    METHODS:
    We conducted a prospective, observational study of 1011 stage III colon cancer patients reporting dietary intake during and 6 months after participation in an adjuvant chemotherapy trial. We examined the influence of glycemic load, glycemic index, fructose, and carbohydrate intakes on cancer recurrence and mortality using Cox proportional hazards regression; all tests of statistical significance were two-sided.
    RESULTS:
    Stage III colon cancer patients in the highest quintile of dietary glycemic load experienced an adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for disease-free survival of 1.79 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.29 to 2.48), compared with those in the lowest quintile (P (trend) across quintiles <.001). Increased glycemic load was associated with similar detriments in recurrence-free (P (trend) across quintiles <.001) and overall survival (P (trend) across quintiles <.001). These associations differed statistically significant by body mass index (BMI) (P (interaction) =.01). Whereas glycemic load was not associated with disease-free survival in patients with BMI < 25kg/m(2), higher glycemic load was statistically significant associated with worse disease-free survival among overweight or obese participants (BMI ≥ 25kg/m(2); HR = 2.26; 95% CI = 1.53 to 3.32; P (trend) across quintiles <.001). Increasing total carbohydrate intake was similarly associated with inferior disease-free, recurrence-free, and overall survival (P (trend) across quintiles <.001).

    CONCLUSION:
    Higher dietary glycemic load and total carbohydrate intake were statistically significant associated with an increased risk of recurrence and mortality in stage III colon cancer patients. These findings support the role of energy balance factors in colon cancer progression and may offer potential opportunities to improve patient survival.

    Reply: #28
  27. murray
    Galina, you may find it useful to look at Mary Enig and Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions, which is inspired by the results of Weston Price's data gathering. They cover lots of traditional food preparation techniques. Last week I declared November 7 to be Mary Enig day, as that day the FDA finally called for total elimination of trans fats. Based on the available science, in 1978 she spoke out strongly against the McGovern Committee and the promotion of trans fats in place of saturated and other natural fats. She was marginalized and her research grants were de-funded by the government, but she persisted with research on fats--marginalized but not margarinized, one might say.
  28. François
    Interesting article, Paul. Totally in keeping with what is known - but not used - about cancer physiology. A normal cell can feed on glucose, ketone bodies and free fatty acids. A cancer cell can only metabolize sugar. By adapting a ketogenic diet, one truly starves the cancer and this approach, combined with more traditional approaches (surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy) greatly increases the odds of killing the cancer. When we feed high sugar foods to cancer patients because they are so emaciated (the epitomy of health according to Ondreij), we pay them a great disservice by feeding their cancer.
    Reply: #29
  29. murray
    Francois, good points. One minor quibble. Cancer cells can also metabolize the amino acid glutamine for energy. Ammonia is a byproduct of this and it may be why some dogs can detect cancer by smell.
  30. Paul the rat
    Nutr Res. 2013 Sep;33(9):719-25. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2013.06.002. Epub 2013 Jul 23.
    Higher glycemic index and glycemic load diet is associated with increased risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma: a case-control study.
    Eslamian G, Jessri M, Hajizadeh B, Ibiebele TI, Rashidkhani B.
    Source
    Students' Research Committee, Faculty of Nutrition Sciences and Food Technology, National Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute (WHO Collaborating Center), Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
    Abstract
    Several studies have indicated the association between intake of foods high in dietary glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) with an increased risk of digestive tract cancers. We hypothesized that GI and GL may be associated with risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in a high-risk population in Iran. In total, we interviewed 47 cases with incident of ESCC and 96 frequency-matched hospital controls, then calculated the average dietary GI and GL via a validated food frequency questionnaire. Dietary GL was calculated as a function of GI, carbohydrate content, and frequency of intake of certain foods. Dietary GI and GL levels were significantly higher among the ESCC cases compared with the controls (P < .05). After adjustment for potential confounders, those in the highest tertile of dietary GI had 2.95 times higher risk of ESCC compared with those in the lowest (95% confidence interval, 1.68-3.35; P for trend = .002). In addition, being in the highest tertile of dietary GL was positively associated with an ESCC risk (odds ratio, 3.49; 95% confidence interval, 2.98-4.41; P for trend = .001).

    Findings of the present study indicate that diets with high GI and GL might have potentially unfavorable effects on ESCC risk and suggest a possible role for excess circulating insulin and related insulin-like growth factor 1 in esophageal cancer development.

  31. Galina L.
    During summer I had to spent some time in my native country because my mom had to have her uterus removed. Nothing really pathological, just the result of her being a disciplined patient and her gynecologist treating too aggressively HPV virus with a laser to the point that cervical channel disappeared and uterus turned into the closed ball without any point of entrance, so if something started to grow there, it would be hard to treat, and mom decided the existence of uterus started to give her too much troubles.
    The surgery took place in the hospital specialized in gynecological cancers, so all other patients in the same room with my mom were ladies with a uterus/ovaries cancers. In Russia people are kept in hospitals for much longer time than in US, I visited mom often and communicated with the people there. I noticed significant portion (like 1/4 - 1/3 of all patients)on the floor were relatively young ones early 30s - early 40s, they were also thin and pale, the rest were overweight or obese and much older. I managed to speak with some of the patients, and found out that pale thin ones were watching their weight very diligently, and engaged heavily in an exercise routine. Among overweight ones majority were diabetics. One lady told me proudly she weighted herself daily, and if she noticed her weight was slightly up, didn't eat anything till the weight was down, and everything was low-fat or zero fat. My silent guess was that the thin pale patients may be experienced the weakness of their immune system, so malignant sells could grow more successfully. The interesting detail - several told me about sudden increase in a very strong craving for sweets not long ago before being diagnosed. Cancer may put its own metabolic requirement on the way how the body functions.
  32. Stan Slonkosky
    While Lustig makes some good points, he repeats errors (e.g., states that ethanol is a carbohydrate) that Richard Feinman discussed two years ago (http://rdfeinman.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/wait-a-minute-lustig-the-threat-of-fructophobia-and-the-opportunity/).

    I'm diabetic and I need to limit my consumption of ALL carbohydrates, not just fructose. Maybe fructose is worse than glucose and starch, but that doesn't mean that they are particularly good for you.

  33. Ida
    Bravo Dr. Lustig, it is time that an honoured, Scientific Professional tells the Food Industry, they ( the capitalists) are busy with a BIO WAR, against our human specie, I am 30 years in the F. Industry and what he has research is my conclusion too, except that I don't have the scientific, randomised control trails to proof it. Maybe the rat specie will do better....
    If the Medical profession do not start to change or adapt, Houston we have a problem!

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