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Nature Wants Us to Be Fat: The Surprising Science Behind Why We Gain Weight and How We Can Prevent--and Reverse--It Hardcover – February 8, 2022

4.6 out of 5 stars 176 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“A fascinating look at the science of obesity, with many practical tips. Dr. Johnson points out that ‘It is not our culture that is making us fat. It is our biology’ and proceeds to explain that biology from an evolutionary viewpoint. An important book."
Jason Fung, MD, author of The Obesity Code

"[Johnson] has brought those who haven’t kept up with his team’s peer-reviewed research and related science up to date in his wide-ranging and readable new book,
Nature Wants Us to Be Fat: The Surprising Science Behind Why We Gain Weight and How We Can Prevent—and Reverse—It."
—Todd Neff, UCHealth

“This fascinating and provocative book makes the case that fructose has a unique role to play in the development of diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases . . . Dr. Johnson takes us on an entertaining, wide-ranging journey, through animal and human studies as well as stories from the history of humankind, to provide some rigorous answers.”
Nina Teicholz, science journalist and New York Times bestselling author of The Big Fat Surprise

“Dr. Johnson explains how a simple mutation turned a simple sugar, fructose, ostensibly an energy source, into a metabolic poison that foments the chronic diseases that plague America and, indeed, the rest of the world.”
Robert Lustig, MD, MSL, neuroendocrinologist at University of California, San Francisco, and author of Metabolical

“By providing an evolutionary explanation for fructose’s unique metabolic role, [Dr. Johnson] takes the emotion out of a very charged topic and lets the biology speak for itself.”
Peter Attia, MD, founder of Attia Medical and host of The Drive podcast

“Metabolic dysfunction is ravaging the globe, with an incalculable toll of lost lives, human suffering, and medical costs. This book is an evidence-based lifeline and a practical path forward for any individual who wants to lose weight, take control of their health, and understand the impact of food on the body.”
Casey Means, MD, nutritionist and cofounder of the Levels health app

“Dr. Johnson presents a credible new theory to explain why more and more people are getting fatter and sicker, and what can be done about it . . . Highly valuable reading."
Jeff Volek, PhD, RD, cofounder and chief science officer at Virta Health

“Richard Johnson . . . has been at the forefront of research on human nutrition and physiology and has developed a novel understanding to explain at the metabolic level why we are destined to gain weight and what to do about it. In his new book, Dr. Johnson writes about the latest research on this topic in very approachable and easily understood terms and artfully blends this with real-life examples from nature and cultural references to make for a very compelling, informative, and fun read.”
—Michael Goran, MD, author of Sugarproof

Nature Wants Us to Be Fat sets a new standard when it comes to understanding the pathology of obesity and metabolic disorders. [Dr. Johnson] presents a complete science-based description of the underlying pathology, and he uses this information to give us revolutionary new tools to reverse obesity and metabolic disorders.”
—William L. Wilson, MD, family physician and author of Brain Drain

"By zeroing in first on the fructose aspect of weight gain, Dr. Richard Johnson has been on the cutting edge of this issue for many years. After digging even deeper into this topic, he now realizes that there is more to the obesity story than mere fructose consumption.
Nature Wants Us to Be Fat gets into the nuts and bolts of exactly how we got here and what it will take to deal with the obesity epidemic once and for all."
—Jimmy Moore, international bestselling author of Keto Clarity

“With authority and clarity,
Nature Wants Us to Be Fat presents critical insights into the challenges of obesity . . . A powerful new framework for understanding why we gain weight, why it is so difficult to lose weight, and the most effective strategies for maintaining optimal weight and health.”
—Barbara N. Horowitz, MD, Harvard professor and coauthor of Zoobiquity

”Richard Johnson, author of
The Fat Switch, has written a must-read and delightful follow-up book full of interesting information describing the surprising science behind weight gain. Through an understanding of our ancestral genetics and studies of nature, the author uses a biomimetic approach to explain and understand the power of fat and why obesity has turned out to be a pandemic in slow-motion.”
—Peter Stenvinkel, MD, Karolinska Institutet, international expert and advocate for how nature can teach us about medicine

Nature Wants Us to Be Fat is a book that must be read. It describes the journey of a recognized scientist moving back and forth from observations in zoology and anthropology to rigorous laboratory observations, leading to the conclusion that nature’s defense mechanisms are at the root of obesity and other present-day diseases.”
—Bernardo Rodriguez-Iturbe, MD, professor of medicine and past president of the International Society of Nephrology

“Professor, clinician, obesity researcher, and author, Richard Johnson, MD, in his new book
Nature Wants Us to Be Fat takes a unique look at the root causes of obesity and chronic disease . . . He explains the unique role of fructose and uric acid as triggers to gain fat and drive chronic disease and what we can do to prevent and reverse these conditions.”
—Jeffry N Gerber, MD, FAAFP, Denver’s Diet Doctor and co-organizer Low Carb Conferences

About the Author

Dr. Richard Johnson is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado and is both a clinician, educator and researcher. He is board certified in internal medicine, infectious diseases, and kidney disease and is the founding editor of Comprehensive Clinical Nephrology, one of the main textbooks on kidney disease.  For more than 20 years, he has led research on the cause of obesity and diabetes, with especial interest in the role of sugar (especially fructose) and uric acid. His research has been highly cited, published in top medical journals, and supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. He is the author of The Sugar Fix and The Fat Switch. His latest work contains state-of-the art discoveries on the cause of obesity and potential cures. Currently Dr. Johnson lives in Colorado with his wife, kids, and two rambunctious puppies.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ BenBella Books (February 8, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 288 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1637740344
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1637740347
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 15.4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.31 x 0.99 x 9.31 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 176 ratings

About the author

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Dr. Richard Johnson is a practicing physician and clinical scientist and a world expert on sugar, and especially fructose, and its role in health. His research has been largely supported by the National Institutes of Health. He is one of the most cited scientists in his field and has published more than 750 papers and lectured in over 45 countries.

He has authored three books on sugar and its health effects--The Sugar Fix with Timothy Gower in 2008 (Rodale); The Fat Switch in 2012 (, and his upcoming book, Nature Wants Us to Be Fat (BenBella publishing, 2022). His most recent book, Nature Wants Us to Be Fat, details his group's discovery of a switch that controls obesity and how it can be turned on and off. The story of the discovery process and how it can be reversed involved some detective work and combined many sources of information, including not only classical laboratory and clinical research, but of studies of animals in the wild, history, archeology, and even studies from prehistoric times. It is also presented in an easy to read but informative way.

He is currently Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. He lives in Aurora, Colorado with his wife, Olga, children, Tracy and Ricky, and two goldendoodles, Charlie Brown and Apollo 11.

For more information, visit or (currently under construction)

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
176 global ratings

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Reviewed in the United States on February 21, 2022
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Top reviews from other countries

the contributor
5.0 out of 5 stars this book changed my life and my eating habits
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 6, 2022
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
Reviewed in Canada on February 10, 2022
Regina george
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book
Reviewed in Australia on February 18, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars Ein wirklich bedeutendes Buch!
Reviewed in Germany on February 28, 2022