Dr Robert Lustig

Dr Robert Lustig


Dr Robert Lustig is an expert in

  • Obesity
  • Clinical Pediatrics
  • Type II Diabetes

Dr. Robert Lustig is Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at The University of California, San Francisco.   He was 15 years into his medical career before he stepped up to deal with obesity as an issue.  Until 1995, like most of his medical colleagues, he did his best to avoid seeing obese patients.  He had nothing to tell them except ‘it’s your fault’ and ‘eat less and exercise more’.  At that time, seeing an obese child with Type II Diabetes was an anomaly.  Now it is an almost everyday occurrence.  The problem of obesity is now inescapable in medical practice. Dr. Robert Lustig, a scientist, in particular a biochemist, could simply no longer ignore the facts that presented themselves to him following rigorous data analysis.  In particular, he has observed, through his extensive clinical practice, how the interaction between genetics and the environment causes obesity in a way that has given rise to a global ‘matabolic syndrome’ pandemic.  Dr. Robert Lustig reveals that whilst to blame obesity is the easy answer, it is the wrong answer.  He now works with governments worldwide to explore how we can implement solutions to an environmental problem that is killing us all slowly and diminishing the quality of life that we live.

MovementWise Films

Dr Robert Lustig has appeared in the following films:

Gerry’s Story – ‘Food and Your Future’

Key Quotes

Everyone is a dietician.  Nutrition is like Harry Potter’s ‘Defense Against the Dark Arts’ class – teachers come, teachers go, the rules change from episode to episode, no-one ever knows what’s going on: we’re dealing with things that you can’t see. It’s basically the Wild West in no-man’s land.’

It’s become so complicated, and it’s not like it’s one thing.  I’m not in any way, shape or form stating that sugar is the only problem in the world’s diet: that would be foolhardy.  What I can say is that processed food is the single biggest change that’s happened in diet, and as that change has happened we have gotten sicker and sicker.

The two behaviors that we associate with obesity – the eating too much, the exercising too little, the gluttony and the sloth – they’re actually secondary to a biochemical primary process.  What we have learned is that the biochemistry drives the behavior and when we influence the biochemistry, the behavior changes of its own volition

Exercise is the single best thing you can do for yourself, but don’t expect it to be shown on the bathroom scale; that is the one place you should not look for the effect.  If you look at your metabolic improvement, if you look at your lab tests, if you look at your belt size, if you look at your energy level, if you look at your quality of life, if you look at your outlook, every single one of those things is benefited by exercise; just don’t look at the scale!

Close up and Personal

Tania Cotton met with Dr. Robert Lustig in Rome, Italy, and asked him about ‘food and our future?’

Watch Dr Robert Lustig’s full interview here (or select a topic to view below).

Download the Audio Podcast (mp3)


Question 1:  When it comes to nutrition, ‘everyone’s an expert’ – how do we know what to believe?

Question 2: Is sugar the driver of ‘metabolic syndrome’ – diseases like heart disease, liver disease and type II diabetes?

Watch this Section: https://vimeo.com/236649086 (6’16”)


Question 3: Are all sugars equal in the effect they have on our bodies?

Question 4:  People associate fructose with fruit, and most of us believe that eating whole fruits is very healthy?

Question 5: What is the difference between eating a whole fruit and drinking a fruit smoothie?

Watch this Section: https://vimeo.com/236650224 (5’23”)


Question 6: What makes us fat?

Question 7: Is the amount of sugar we drink in liquid form one of our biggest problems?

Question 8: Is putting a tax on sugar the answer – what are our alternatives?

Watch this Section: https://vimeo.com/236651188 (3’46”)


Question 9: Why is there such a focus on Obesity – don’t thin people get metabolic diseases as well?

Question 10: What is driving the type II diabetes epidemic? Is it diet?

Question 12: Is all of our body fat equally unhealthy?

Watch this Section: https://vimeo.com/236651911 (4’08”)


Question 13: “Surely, if I just do more exercise, I’ll lose weight?”

Question 14: What drives many of us to eat too much?

Question 15: What advice do you have to give people like nurses who have to do shift work?

Watch this Section: https://vimeo.com/236652675 (3’21”)


Question 16: Is there a genetic element to metabolic diseases such as heart disease, liver disease and type II diabetes?

Watch this Section: Food and Your Future https://vimeo.com/236653194 (4’59”)

Biography (drop down)

Dr. Robert Lustig is Professor or Pediatrics in the Division or Endocrinology at the University, San Francisco (UCSF) where he specializes in neuroendocrinology and childhood obesity.  He is also director of UCSF’s WATCH program (Weight Assessment for Teen and Child Health), and president and co-founder of the non-profit Institute for Responsible Nutrition (IRN).

His medical lecture ‘Sugar the Bitter Truth’ went out on Youtube in 2009.  After  it went viral Dr. Robert Lustig followed this ‘Bitter Truth Wake Up Call’ with a second ‘Sugar the Bitter Truth’ lecture, also available on Youtube, and in 2013 his book ‘Fat Chance’ was published as a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in health, nutrition and ‘food politics’.

Dr. Robert Lustig has authored over 105 peer-reviewed articles and 65 reviews.  He is a passionate and engaging presenter who met up with MovementWise in Geneva and in London together with ‘Food and Behavior’ (FAB) expert Dr. Alex Richardson, author of ‘You Are What You Eat’ to explore how we can create ‘enabling environments’.   He is a passionate activist who has gone to great lengths to engage with politicians and the food industry to find sustainable solutions that can reduce the metabolic syndrome pandemic, worldwide.


  • (2010) Obesity Before Birth:  Maternal and Prenatal influences on the Offspring.  Boston: Springer Science.
  • (2013) Fat Chance:  Beating the Odds against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease.  New York: Hudson Street Press.
  • (2013) Sugar has 56 Names:  A Shopper’s Guide: Avery.
  • (2017) ‘The Hacking of the American Mind’: Avery.


  • (2013) ‘What is Metabolic Syndrome and why are children getting it?’ Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1281, April, 123-140  doi:10.1111/nyas.12030  PMID 23356701


  • (2014) ‘Fed Up’ featuring Dr. Robert Lustig

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