283 of 291 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2013
I had hit a wall in terms of eating right and dieting. Then my sister shared with me how much she was able to lower her LDL in her cholesterol by reducing her sugar intake. I started to Google articles on sugar and came across Dr Lustig's You Tube video. It was 90 minutes but it was, in a word, captivating. I was then fortunate to find out that he was coming out with a book at the end of December. I had it delivered to my Kindle while on a beach vacation during the Christmas/ New Year's holidays.
Well, as much as that does not sound like a good vacation book (I did read 2 other novels), it was fantastic on multiple levels. Dr Lustig has a gift because not only is he obviously educated in his field but he is articulate and extremely thorough.
Specifically, his book details how sugar is bad for you but he takes it to a level where you totally get it. He explains it from angles that you have never even realized existed...politically, economically, socially and of course, scientifically. And it is not just sugar. He gets into every corner of nutrition....fiber, insulin, leptin, stress, exercise. The book covers everything. It is obvious he put a tremendous amount of effort into this book. He also states very clearly that he has scientific back-up to all of his statements.
As I mentioned above, I was looking for a "new diet book" but this book is much more than that. Realizing what is going on in my body because I absolutely love and eat so many carbs was mind boggling. He teaches you all about food labels and let me tell you, it is an education. I am married over 25 years and my wife always does the food shopping. This book had such an effect on me, that I went food shopping by myself so that I could take the time and read the food labels. You cannot believe how much sugar is in your food. I am not even viewing my change in eating as a diet. This is about understanding what is going on with all of the garbage that we consume. For me, it is a change of life. The book just clicked with me.
If you want to live longer( in addition to many other benefits such as losing weight), read this book cover to cover. I also love the fact that he endorses the glass of red wine I am drinking right now.
366 of 387 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2012
I devoured this book.
Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at UCSF whose "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" lecture video got lots of hits on YouTube, has been watching the rise of obesity and its attendant ills in his practice over the last umpteen years. While not every obese person is unhealthy (and many people with acceptable BMIs still suffer from metabolic syndrome), obesity frequently brings in train "the cluster of chronic metabolic diseases...which includes...type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), lipid (blood fat) disorders, and cardiovascular disease," along with "co-morbidities associated with obesity, such as orthopedic problems, sleep apnea, gallstones, and depression." Lustig even mentioned the increase of dementia as tied to this whole mess, as insulin resistance leads to dementia!
Consider some of his alarming statistics:
- 1/4 of U.S. children are now obese;
- Greater than 40% of death certificates now list diabetes as the cause of death, up from 13% 20 years ago;
- The percentage of obese humans GLOBALLY has doubled in the last 28 years; there are now 30% more overnourished (obese) people than undernourished, worldwide;
- Fructose (all the sugars you can think of, apart from the sugar in milk) is "inevitably metabolized to fat";
- Fructose consumption has doubled in the past 30 years and increased six-fold in the last century;
- The majority of humans, regardless of weight, release double the insulin today as we did 30 years ago for the same amount of glucose; this hyperinsulinemia leads to insulin resistance, the body thinking it's starving, and increased eating, especially for foods high in fat and sugar because our dopamine receptors aren't getting cleared--a vicious cycle;
- The processed food industry has turned to increased sugars of all kinds to improve flavor and shelf life; we eat lots of processed foods; therefore, 20-25% of all calories we consume on average come from sugars; in adolescents this number can approach 40% of daily calories.
Because I was blitzing through this, I didn't absorb the science as well as I might have, but Lustig helped me understand that how often, how much, and how unhealthily we eat can be a function not of choice but of our biochemistry. The feedback systems and processing systems which served humans so well for eons were not built to handle as much food as we eat nowadays, particularly the avalanche of empty sugar calories. Sweets and fats used to be hard for us to come by--if we hit a surplus, of course our bodies stored it up (as fat) for a rainy day! Unfortunately, there are no more rainy days, so we keep storing and storing and overloading the system.
Lustig's book is not about dieting or losing weight--in fact he says we have natural weights we gravitate toward, and there isn't a heckuva lot we can do about it, exercise or no exercise. But obesity is a new thing that is environmentally-aided, and that can be fought against.
His conclusion? You can probably guess. Lots of fruits and vegetables and fiber. The fiber in fruits requires enough work to digest that it effectively negates the fructose. Milk or water to drink (lactose is not processed like fructose). Meats (not corn-fed) and dairy (ditto) are fine, but don't skip the produce. Whole grains (all the brown in them--exactly how my son doesn't like them), but even then there's no need for tons of grain. And, if it has a nutrition label, it's a processed food. Use sparingly.
The low-hanging fruit Lustig tackles first is ridding your life of soda, smoothies, frappucinos, and fruit juice. (8 ozs of orange juice has more sugar than 8 ozs of Coke.) If you do alcohol, do just enough wine to get the resveratrol benefits and then lay off.
As Lustig points out, changing one's food environment is all but impossible for the poor. After all, corn and soy receive massive government subsidies, making the processed foods based on them cheap, cheap, cheap. Even if you had access to fresh produce, your money goes farther on the stuff in boxes, and food stamps cover soda. One of the more disheartening bits of the book was when he talked about meeting with Michelle Obama's personal chef Sam Kass, the point person for the White House Obesity Task Force. Kass admitted everyone in the White House (incl the Pres) had read Lustig's NYTimes article "Is sugar toxic?" but they would do nothing to help. "Because they don't want the fight, this Administration has enough enemies." Sigh. Not that the Republicans mentioned fared any better. Basically, changing our food landscape is up to us. For those of us with the dollars, vote with our dollars! If we don't buy it, not all the food stamps in the world will make it profitable.
Kind of a bummer to read this going into Christmas-cookie season, but one of my New Year's Resolutions will be to improve the food environment for my kids. (How I wish I had a time machine! I would never have introduced our biggest consumption area for processed foods--breakfast cereal. I can only comfort myself that we don't eat any off of his "Ten Worst Children's Breakfast Cereals" list!)
(Thank you to NetGalley and Hudson Street Press for the ARC.)
189 of 222 people found the following review helpful
As a health and fitness researcher and reviewer, I have a keen interest in why people get sick and how we can stay healthy. There is so much clutter out there. So much half-baked information, little of which is based on science.
The author tells us upfront, "I'll make a promise to you right now: there is not one statement made in this entire book that can't be backed up by hard science."
And so, it was with great pleasure that I read this book by a doctor who understands the problem of sugar in the diet on all levels. My only real disappointment was that he is a pediatrician and an awful lot of what he writes is about children and their problems. While this is of great importance, I prefer to read about mature people and their problems. Having said that, sugar is a problem for us all.
The parts in the book about the government and its relationship with the food industry is all well-known and you can just pass over this part if you already know it. And, a lot of it is available in his YouTube video. But, if you're unfamiliar with the topic, you may find it fascinating.
But you will find how to read a food label. I find this really an eye-opener. I sort of knew what to look for but not totally. This book filled the gap for me.
The author believes that all sweeteners are bad. But, he lays it out in a way that is most persuasive. He says, "All caloric sweeteners contain fructose: white sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, fruit sugar, table sugar, brown sugar, and its cheaper cousin HFCS. Add to this maple syrup, honey, and agave nectar. It's all the same. The vehicle is irrelevant; it's the payload that matters."
The book starts out with a lot of high-toned medical jargon that really should have been eliminated for the layperson. It's quite boring unless you're a medical professional. But, I guess if you read it several times it might make sense on some level.
The author provides a fairly extensive shopping list of foods you can have in any amount, those you can have about five times a week or so and those either not at all or once a week. I found the list helpful. But, I was surprised after he had claimed agave, honey, etc to be safe alternatives to table sugar, that he put them in the "red" or once a week part of the list.
I was a bit concerned when the doctor writes that he gained 45 pounds during his residency and has not taken them off yet. I appreciate his candor. But question why he has failed to take his own extra weight off. He may feel his weight is ok and it may be. I just found it curious.
He did say that, "Indeed, overweight people with BMIs between 25 and 30 live longer than thin people with BMIs of less than 19." So, he may be somewhere between those two figures. Whatever the case, I found the book a delightful and important read and highly recommend it to you.
-- Susanna K. Hutcheson
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2013
Where to being, first, I didn't buy this book because I am obese. I purchased this book because I wanted to understand obesity and more importantly, I wanted to understand metabolic syndrome. Just because you are "skinny" doesn't mean your healthy. I have always felt this way, and this book helps to reinforce that with science. I know that I don't eat the healthiest foods. I tend to eat a lot of processed high sugar foods and I wanted to change my lifestyle. I am fairly skinny but now realize that I am probably not that metabolically healthy (or rather I could be doing a much better job). This book has really inspired me to change my lifestyle. I am not looking to lose weight at all but be more metabolically healthy.
Here is what I lover about this book:
-Everything is backed up by science. Don't believe the author, fine, look up the studies yourself. This isn't something that is made up or someones opinion. You can look up these studies yourself to verify the book. The nice thing about this book is all of these data is compiled for you in a nice neat package.
-The book is realistic in many ways. The author doesn't say "change your life style and your problems will be fixed". Rather, the author gives a whole list of causes of metabolic syndrome and explains different solutions for different people. The author even explains that it simply could be your genetics or in some cases a side effect from another treatment ( for example, from cancer treatments) and that you will need other measures to deal with metabolic syndrome. Such as drugs because there are no other options. However, the author does a fantastic job explaining that this isn't the majority of cases. The majority of cases can be fixed by changing your lifestyle.
-Ever wonder why many diets conflict with each other but seems to work with different populations? For example, in Asia the main diet is rice and vegetables and yet the seem to age very nicely and are usually pretty thin. Yes this could be genetics but I have this suspicion diet plays a very important role. On the flip side we also have seen great results with some low carb diets with high protein, very low carbs, almost the opposite of the "Asian" diet. How could this be? This book explains.
-Exercise alone won't solve your problems. I love how this is explained in the book. You can exercise all you want but if you don't follow a health diet it doesn't mean you will be super healthy. Yes exercise is really important but not for losing weight. this is explained really well in the book. For example, I have been to the gym where I have seen "heavy" people. These are people that are on the "heavier" side yet look really healthy and really fit. I have seen this with women where they are "heavy" but look fantastic because they are exercising properly and eating a healthier diet. They just tend to be genetically "heavier". On the flip side, I have seen super skinny people that look "sickly" thin because they don't exercise and have a poor diet. This is explained very well in the book and has confirmed a lot of what I already suspected.
Okay, on to the cons. Not too much here but if you aren't into science and pathways you might find the book a bit boring. The author goes into great detail about the metabolic process and how it works. Some people may find this very boring.
Currently I am 70% of the way though. I normally don't write reviews. I also usually wait until I am all the way done with the product. However, I am really enjoying this book and feel that it is done really well. So, I wanted to share my experiences with you. If things change after I finish the book I will be sure to update the review.
89 of 104 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2013
After watching the CBS 60 minutes episode on sugar featuring Dr Robert Lustig, I gave up sugar. Eight weeks later I had lost twenty pounds and was back to my ideal weight! I highly recommend "Fat Chance" and would encourage everyone to read it and follow Dr Lustig's advice. -Bill Hunt
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2013
Just finished the Kindle version of this book and reread many parts. First, if you want the tables for future reference, the Kindle version is not recommended so buy the hardcopy. Secondly, I have 2 morbidly obese siblings and 1 obese. I gave up dieting per se in 1985 and luckily, I married a man who was not a fan of processed food. I am humbled to know that I could be right up there with my siblings, but thankfully I am within the BMI range. Like others, I devoured this book and read a good bit of it again to be sure I understood.
This book clears up a lot of the damage sugar and refined carbs do to our brain, liver, etc. It also clearly lays out how obesity got out of control. This information may seem overwhelming, but it is very helpful in explaining metebolic disease (high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) Lustig lays out the chain of events so that we can stop this train wreck to our health. He also lays out how the food industry can lie to us about food lables and the sugar content. I about died when I read the piece on non-fat Greek yogurt, now I'll only buy plain 0 fat Greek yogurt and put real fruit on it myself. Lastly, he shows why diets will never work beyond the 3 to 6 month cycle unless we dramatically reduce our consumption of sugar and refined carbs.
In other reviews, people claimed that Lustig doesn't give actionable information. Not true! Lustig peppers his book with recommendations such as: Eat real food, shop in the outer circle of the grocercy store where real food is sold, exercise, stop eating refined carbs, reduce your stress levels, don't eat anything that comes in a package, avoid fast food, set up your environment for success, eat dessert once a week and so on. Okay, Dr. Lustig doesn't recap his recommendations, but there many actionable suggestions.
Yes, Lustig is 30-45 pounds overweight, why does that diminish his message? It doesn't, it underscores the real challenge of sugar and refined carbs. Dr. Lustig has integrity and is clearly committed to this cause especially for children. I found his tone and voice in this message to be profound and compelling.
63 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2012
I'm among those who had the honor working with Dr.Lustig closely prior to entering my residency. Over the year I worked with him, Dr. Lustig earned all my respect and is in no doubt my role model of how to be a doctor. His effort in fighting childhood obesity affected millions. Even today I've finished residency in pediatrics and entered gastroenterology fellowship, I am still using the model I learned from him to instruct my patients how to fight obesity, more specifically how to fight fatty liver which will be the No 1. cause for liver transplant in 2030. As mentioned in the other review, Dr. Lustig cares nothing but children's health, that's why his book, his talk and his interview on 60 Minutes are so powerful. I'm very happy to see his new book is just released, that means more people will read the truth about sugar and will learn that the modern diet is killing our kids. And hopefully with more parents awareness of the truth, more effort will be gathered to fight against childhood obesity. I know I have a new book to offer to my patients now...
63 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2013
Funny how when the right scientist comes along then suddenly everything makes sense. Why are Americans so overweight, so suddenly? Simple, it turns out. The food industry is run by conglomerates that have wealth, not health, as their number one priority. They know we have a taste for sugar and have laced all of their processed foods with it. Which would be a win-win except for the problem of sugar being - per Dr. Lustig - a toxin. Oops.
"Eat real foods," he says. The idea seems to be that the body is smart enough to process foods on its own. The body knows how to handle a nice, grass-fed piece of beef, real butter; it knows how to get the micronutrients out of green vegetables. When it's fed sugar, though, all heck breaks loose. The body can't figure out why we're eating something with no nutritional value, freaks outs, decides there must be a famine in the lands so it stores the sugar as fat. (He of course expresses it scientifically.)
More than the research, one societal aspect of the book is especially praiseworthy. Dr. Lustig does a great service by disproving "gluttony" and "sloth" as the reason so many people - especially in minority communities - are overweight. Dr. Lustig disparages this "perception of choice". He points out that there are "food desert" swaths of the country where good, fresh food simply is not available, and that poor people of course often lack time and resources to obtain quality food. He sounds absolutely fed up with this "personal responsibility" approach to an entrenched, national problem and wants government to stand up to the big food corporations on the issue of sugar. By the end of Fat Chance you will want the same.
38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2013
Add Monsanto, Cargill, Dow, GMOs, corn syrup, fast food chains, and the sugar lobby together and you get an industry of death. Nearly 85% of all the food sold in regular grocery stores is laced with sugar, GMOs, toxins, and fillers. The only way to stop this industry from killing us all is to eat living foods, grow your own organic food, and work against the fast food/junk food lobbyists.
64 of 80 people found the following review helpful
Childhood obesity expert and anti-sugar, real food activist Dr. Robert Lustig is quite literally on a one-man crusade to change the American diet forever. This pediatric endocrinologist from the University Of California-San Diego has been one of the most outspoken and influential people in the world of health over the past couple of years thanks to the notoriety he has received from an unassuming lecture he gave as part of a medical conference to a lay audience back in 2009. As of January 2013, well over 3 million people have seen his infamous 90-minute YouTube video that went viral entitled "Sugar: The Bitter Truth." And the reason is simple--people are attracted to the clear-cut science he presents in a way that is both understandable and convincing.
This quickly caught the attention of mainstream book publisher Hudson Street Press who offered him a book deal. They asked Dr. Lustig to write a book about the concepts he shared in that YouTube video as well as other important issues related to the role that nutrition plays in our weight and health. The book was released in December 2012 and it's called FAT CHANCE: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease. Plus, Dr. Lustig has been given some great national exposure for his message thanks to several feature stories with Dr. Sanjay Gupta at CNN and on "60 Minutes" as well as a wide variety of mainstream media. This is sure to be one of the biggest health books of 2013!
Dr. Lustig and I had a fantastic conversation about FAT CHANCE in Episode 640 of "The Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Show" podcast where we discussed a lot of the content found in this book, including:
- He wants to find the "common ground" between low-fat and low-carb
- Vegan and Paleo should join forces against the food industry
- "Everyone is a dietitian" and thinks they know what's best
- Nobody wants to be wrong with their own lives
- The low-carb people are right; the low-fat people are right too
- Dr. Ornish is right too because he has science supporting him
- Low-sugar and high-fiber is a "real food" diet everyone agrees on
- Fat has gotten a bad rap, but not all fats are equal
- The Atkins diet said "fat is fat" but there are 7 classes of fats
- Omega-3 fats are great, but trans-fats are "the devil incarnate"
- If you line up fats, there are certain fats that are good vs. bad
- Omega-6′s and trans-fats are what comprise most of Western diet
- Corn fat derivatives are chock full of omega-6 fats killing us
- Real food is balanced in good fats that you don't need to worry
- Saturated fat is neutral because it raises LDL, but large kind
- Why a "calorie is just a calorie" is so egregiously wrong
- Calorie burned is calorie burned; calorie eaten not calorie eaten
- You have 100 trillion bacteria in your body that need to be fed
- Costs twice as much energy to convert protein to energy as carbs
- Government/food industry wants you to believe calorie hypothesis
- Why? Because it doesn't work. Never did. Never will.
- Everybody still buys into the calorie myth, but ignore hormones
- Obesity is energy deposition and "it's the insulin stupid"
- Any diet will work because they keep the insulin down
- Remove refined carbs, increasing fiber lowers the insulin well
- Where does leptin fit into this? Obesity is leptin resistance
- Our brain isn't seeing the leptin signal and leading to fat gain
- This is why leptin is "holy grail" of obesity that explains all
- Insulin blocks leptin in brain to make you think you're starving
- Giving a drug to lower insulin, exercise spontaneously happened
- They wanted to burn energy once leptin levels became normalized
- Gluttony and sloth are high insulin, defective leptin signaling
- The 7 ideals of food addiction that identifies the pattern
- How important the scale is on your weight loss progress?
- The scale lies more than you do and you shouldn't believe it
- More is better in muscle, bone and subcutaneous "big butt" fat
- The only one that's bad is visceral "big belly" fat
- That's just 4-6% of your total body weight and you can't know
- If you tap into belly fat when you lose weight, that's good
- The goal is not to lose weight, but to get rid of visceral fat
- Turn the visceral fat into muscle and make more mitochondria
- The more mitochondria you make, the healthier you become
- It's not about your weight, it's about your waist size
- The best way to check it is with an MRI that costs $1000
- Men want a belt size under 40 inches, women under 35 inches
- Worst thing that happens is your doctor telling you to exercise
- No study in the world shows exercise alone leads to weight loss
- People think they are failures when they don't lose weight
- This is greatest disservice to patients by medical community
- Why mainstream doctors don't talk about metabolic syndrome
- People think metabolic syndrome is a result of being obese
- This is as bad a mistake as "a calorie is just a calorie"
- 25% of obese have no health problems at all and live normally
- Up to 40% of people with metabolic syndrome don't have obesity
- Doctors don't tell these patients they have an issues
- Obesity is a marker for metabolic syndrome just like diabetes
- But ANYONE can have this even without the typical markers
- People who are thin think they're out of woods, but they're not
- The Western diet is the biggest culprit making this happen
- People have been promised the "magic pill" for obesity, disease
- There is no drug target or pathway for "over nutrition"
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease makes 5X risk of top diseases
- Prevention is only option and that's why food change is needed
- Food industry taken notice of him recently (on Coke's hit list)
- They know when they add sugar to a food item, you buy more
- Why? Because your brain thinks you're starving and you want more
- Starvation and reward is a great reason to eat more
- For every addictive substance (sugar), we need intervention
- It needs to be personal (rehab) and societal (laws) intervention
- Government has to fix this because food industry won't
- Things are getting worse and worse as Medicare goes broke by 2024
- There's no prevention for metabolic syndrome, just prevention
- People have accused him of being a "nanny state" supporter
- The food industry has chosen for you what to eat
- 80% of foods on market today have been laced with added sugar
- Do you want government or food industry in your kitchen?
- He wishes this weren't necessary because he's no fan of government
- Government always does the wrong thing because they're "paid off"
- They must be coerced into doing the right thing
- The epilogue he wrote about a "bottom up" movement in this too
- The FDA and USDA have been captured by food industry executives
- Legal and public media is all that's left to bring about changes
- It's time to "bring out the lawyers" in this battle
- He's doing a Master's of law right now to find legal avenues
- It was the courts that ultimately brought tobacco to its knees
- Why he'd love to lose the "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" mantra
- His book is about so much more than just sugar-let's move on
- He'd rather be known as guy who brought rationality to diet debate
If you care about the weight and health issues that most Americans (and people around the world) are facing, then you need to hear from this man who is incredibly passionate about changing back to real, whole foods that our great-grandmothers would recognize as such and away from these sugar-filled carb-bombs that are making us fatter and sicker than ever before. GET THIS BOOK and share it with everyone you care about.