Dr. Robert H. Lustig talks sugar, 'Fat Chance'
Sugar can be poisonous, and the problem is that it's everywhere, and in everything. That's what Dr. Robert H. Lustig, M.D., is trying to combat. Lustig, author of the recent book "Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease," says exercise and dieting are not enough to help you keep off the pounds - and the food industry and the FDA are to blame.
What's the problem with sugar? Naturally occurring sugar is fine, right? All food is inherently good the way it comes out of the ground. It's what we do to the food that's concerning ... People are programmed to like sweets. It's in our DNA. We love the stuff. ... In low doses, it's fine. ... The problem is we have a limited threshold for being able to metabolize it and we're over the threshold. ... The American Heart Association recommends six teaspoons of sugar per day for women, and nine for men. But on average, we're at 22 teaspoons per day. Of those 22 teaspoons, 1/3 are in soft drinks or juices, 1/6 are in desserts, and 1/2 are scattered throughout the processed foods we eat, from salad dressings to BBQ sauce to hamburger buns and rolls, to meat. Taco Bell puts sugar in its meat. So even if you cut out desserts and sodas ... you're still over the recommended daily average.
What are the threats of too much sugar? Sugar is addictive for some people. It does the same thing to your liver as alcohol does. ... Sugar causes cirrhosis of the liver and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is the biggest epidemic in the history of America. Thirty years ago nobody had it. Today 1/3 of adults have it. ... We are spending $192 billion a year on chronic metabolic disease. ... We wouldn't need health reform if we had obesity reform.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book? I wrote the book to get people mad. ... The FDA has fructose [a naturally occurring simple sugar] on the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list. Anything on that list the food industry is allowed to use with impunity. That's the problem. That's what we've been lobbying for.
Your YouTube video "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" has been viewed more than three million times. Do you see change coming? Without legislative change, mere mortals can't do anything. ... The FDA has stated that they don't want to go there. ... Clearly, there's no politician who's there. ... When there are more votes than dollars, they'll change. ... Let's see if the game gets changed. The only way it will change is to lobby your politicians, or the other thing is vote with your feet and stop buying the products.
What advice do you have for people who want to limit their sugar intake? It's about real food. The more labels you read, the more junk you're buying. Real food doesn't need a label. ... You can't know what your food is doing to you based on what you've been told by the government and the food industry. There's more going on that they don't necessarily want you to know.